Do You Want to Be
Featured in a Photo Gallery?

by Shira


I sometimes receive inquiries from dancers who are interested in being featured in the photo galleries on this web site. The purpose of this article is to explain what I'm looking for, so you can determine whether you or someone you know might suit my needs.

These photo galleries are a huge amount of work for me to create. Because of this, I'm very, very selective. Still, if you happen to match what I'm looking for, I want to hear from you!


Women of all sizes can bellydance!

Table of Contents


Women of all sizes can bellydance!

My Top Priorities

These are my current priorities. They are likely to change over time, after I have filled some of the gaps I have today. If you don't think you fit today, I encourage you to check back in the future to see whether my needs have changed.

Even if you suspect you may not be what I'm looking for today, it's okay to contact me to introduce yourself and ask me what I think. Use the How to Audition instructions at the bottom of this page to compose your inquiry - following those instructions is a great way to make a positive first impression.


Top Priorities

These are the aspects of my galleries that I currently feel are gaps. If I had a choice between two applicants, one who fits one of these profiles and one who does not, I would choose the one who fits:

  • Dancers of Color. Right now, my photo galleries feature only dancers of European descent. I'd like to add at least two darker-skinned dancers to the galleries, and I would be happy to take a look at more.
  • Dancers in Late-Term Pregnancies. Pregnancy makes even women who are normally thin termporarily plus-sized. I would consider featuring photo galleries of one or two dancers in their third trimester in the gallery.
  • Non-Egyptian Folkloric. I already have a large number of photos of Egyptian folkloric costumes, so I don't really need more of those. However, I could use photos of other Middle Eastern and North African folk styles. For example, I would welcome dancers with photos of themselves wearing Tunisian-style melias, Moroccan haiks or d'finas, Khaleegy thobes al-nasha'al, Palestinian or Lebanese embroidered thobes, etc.
  • Tribal Dancers whose costumes are not too fusion-oriented, and fit one of these criteria:
    • Professional quality. I'm looking for a professional Tribal-style dancer whose costumes have the high-end edge you would expect of the headliner in a formal show.
    • Tribal Fusion looks that stay close to the belly dance aesthetic. For example, I'd consider costumes containing flared pants such as Melodias, but not garters or chaps. Bra/belt sets made with coins, cowrie shells, or peacock feathers would be fine, but not ones made with skulls. Please, no Thai fingers.
    • In the pre-FatChance style inspired by Bal Anat or Hahbi Ru. For example, I would be interested in photos of costumes that include assuit tunics, Ghawazee coats, etc.
  • Historical Garments. If you have done extensive research into historical Middle Eastern or North African clothing and have created some costumes based on that research, I'd be very interested in seeing your photos! I know we have a lot of belly dancers in the SCA - how many of you SCAdians have created historical garments for your Middle Eastern SCA identities?


Low Priorities

Some categories of dancers or costumes are low priority because I already have examples featured in the gallery. I prefer to focus my efforts for future galleries on areas that I don't already have covered. The list below identifies categories that are a low priority for me. If you fit the "low priorities" criteria below, we can still talk, especially if you also happen to meet one or more of my criteria above for Top Priorities.

  • Inexpensive Student-Quality Costumes. I'm glad I have two galleries showing affordable costumes that are suitable for students and hobbyists on a budget, but those two are sufficient. I want to focus instead on the star power of professional costumes. I think the more professional costumes make more exciting role models to inspire the imaginations of the people who visit this web site.
  • Egyptian Costumes (Both Folk and Oriental). I like Egyptian costumes very much and own many myself, but this web site already features a large number of them. So now I'm looking to bring more diversity to this web site through focusing on other costume styles.
  • Slimmer End of the Plus-Size Range. If your BMI is under 30, you're lower priority. I realize BMI is not a perfect measure of a person's physique, but I can't think of a readily-available better one. (I don't expect you to tell me what your BMI or weight are when you contact me. I just offer this as a guideline to help you assess whether you might fit the body types I'm looking for.)
  • Doesn't Fit the Requirements Below. See my Requirements to Qualify for Consideration below.


Women of all sizes can bellydance!

Requirements to Qualify for Consideration

These basic requirements outline the criteria a dancer must meet in order to be considered for inclusion in my photo gallery.

Click on the underlined headers below to jump to the sections that describe these requirements in detail:


Easy to Work With!

I'm looking for partners who respect how much time and effort I'll be investing in making them look good. I want to work with people who are willing to read my instructions carefully and follow them. I want to work with people who pay attention to detail. I want to work with people who share my vision of providing inspiration to the people who visit this web site.

I don't want to work with people who see me as nothing more than a tool they can exploit to advertise themselves. I don't want to work with people who are high-maintenance.

When you submit your application to me (instructions at the end of this article), one factor I will look at is whether you followed my instructions carefully. If you did, that will suggest to me that you may be easy to work with.


Must Be Plus Sized

I have received emails from some interested dancers asking, "Am I big enough to qualify?" so I'll try to offer some guidelines here. If your BMI is greater than 30 and you are not a body-builder, it's likely you have the body type I'm looking for, though I would need to see your photos to be sure. If your BMI is higher than 25 but under 30, then you will probably be a lower priority unless you meet one of the Top Priorities criteria that I'm currently looking for.

I realize that BMI is an imperfect way to measure body type. But it's the best one I can think of. I don't ask anybody to actually tell me their weight or their BMI when they apply - I just look at their photos and make my decision based on those.


Photo Quality

When I re-designed this web site in September 2008, I made a decision that only dancers with high-quality photographs of themselves would be considered when I make choices about whom to add to the photo galleries. It's not necessary for the photos to have been taken by a professional photographer; in fact, many of the dancers featured in the galleries have provided photos taken by friends, spouses, and family members. However, it is necessary for the photos to feature sharp focus, clear lighting, vivid colors, and appealing composition.

Here's why...

Plus-sized women have long complained (justifiably) that the media rarely depicts plus-sized women as beautiful, sexy, or desirable. Larger-sized actresses are usually relegated to character or supporting roles rather than securing the roles of romantic leading ladies. In a related problem, many of the garments offered in larger sizes by the fashion industry are dowdy or boring, often shapeless sacks. Simply put, the media offers very few role models showing plus-sized women as being vibrant, fabulous, and exciting.

This web site aims to serve as a voice of change. It aims to provide those role models that are missing from the mainstream, at least with respect to belly dancing. This web site's purpose is to help plus-sized would-be belly dance students discover role models whose body types resemble their own. I want people exploring the photo galleries to think, "Wow, she looks wonderful, and her figure is similar to mine. Maybe I too can look like that!" In keeping with that objective, the photo galleries on this web site aim to provide examples of plus-sized women looking glamorous, mysterious, joyful, sexy, sassy, powerful, and gorgeous in their belly dancing costumes.

The dancer/model herself can achieve some of this through her choices of costuming, makeup, posture, and facial expression. However, that's not enough. The photographer's craft has an important role to play. Photos which are blurry, poorly lit, or awkwardly composed can make even a glamorous dancer look dull and dowdy. It would defeat the purpose of this web site to include such pictures.


Full-Body Pictures

I want photos that show the dancer's face and full body. I don't want close-ups of faces. I don't want headless torsos. I don't want a close-up of a skirt from a vendor's catalog.

A major goal of the photo galleries is to show people costuming ideas for plus-sized body types. If the picture fails to show the costume, then there really isn't much point in including that photo on this web site. It may be a wonderful portrait photo worthy of being proudly displayed on the dancer's own web site or social networking profile, but if it doesn't show the costume, it doesn't meet the needs of this web site.

There may be situations in which I'll accept a close-up photo, but only when I also have a full-body photo of the same costume. For example, if a dancer made her own costume bra with some unique decoration, I might consider including a close-up of her wearing the bra to show the detail.


Several Diverse Looks

I'm looking for versatile dancers who have been part of the scene long enough to have created a variety of different costumes for themselves. I have found that dancers tend to refine their taste in costumes with experience. They learn through trial and error, with guidance from teachers and friends, which styles flatter them best.

By looking for dancers who can provide photos of themselves wearing 3-4 or more different costumes, I'm narrowing my search to people who have done enough experimentation to create their own personal sense of style. In other words, I want dancers whose taste in costuming has matured a bit - dancers who have grown beyond the student troupe costumes dictated by their teachers to explore their tastes as individuals.

In addition, if you have high-quality photos showing you wearing a variety of different costumes, it's more likely you have been part of the belly dance scene long enough to make a commitment to this art form. As I said above, I want to work with people who share my passion for this dance form and the goals of this web site.


Bellydance Only, Please

My web site is about bellydancing. It's not about pirates, Goth culture, burlesque, Burning Man, the circus, saloons of the Old West, steampunk, Bollywood, poi spinning, or other entertainment forms. Those activities may be fun to do, but they're not what my web site is about.

I'm only interested in photos that a member of the general public who knows nothing about bellydancing trends and subcultures would recognize as being bellydancing.

I do want to include Tribal-style photos in my galleries. However, as I stated in the Top Priorities section of this page, I want photos that stay close to the bellydance aesthetic. This is not a fusion web site.


Individual Dancers Preferred

As noted at the beginning of this article, I prefer photos of individuals rather than of troupes. There are several reasons for this, including:

  • When multiple people appear in a photo, the camera must pull back to a wide angle to show everybody. This makes it difficult to see style details in the costumes.
  • Troupe photos taken during performances often look messy because of inconsistency in people's postures, varying arm positions, dancers in the front row blocking the back row, irregular spacing between dancers, crooked lines, etc.
  • The overwhelming majority of troupes consist of student-level dancers rather than of working professionals. Because my photo galleries' purpose is to showcase exciting, successful dancers who can serve as role models for my readers, I prefer to show professional dancers wearing high-quality professional costumes.
  • Troupe costumes are often kept very simple in order to be affordable for everyone. As I noted above, I want to show a higher standard of costume quality.
  • Troupes often include a variety of body types. I want to keep my web site focused on plus-sized dancers.
  • Quarrels between troupe members can lead to headaches for me. For example, if a troupe kicks someone out they might demand that I remove all photos from the gallery containing that person, and I don't want to find myself in the middle of that kind of drama.

Now, I may be willing to include a troupe photo or two as part of an individual dancer's photo gallery. I did this with the photo galleries of both Asifa el-Bah'r and Melodi.


Women of all sizes can bellydance!

Terms & Conditions

  • Permission from the Photographer. You must obtain permission from the photographers who took the photos to use the photos in this way. (According to U.S. copyright law, it is the photographer who owns the right to reproduce the photo unless he has explicitly transferred that right to you.)
  • Permission from Other People Shown in Photo. If one or more other people also appear in the photo, you must obtain permission from them to use the photo in this way. This applies both to other dancers and to audience members.
  • Perpetual License to Use Your Image On This Web Site. You and your photographers both must give me permission to include your photo gallery on my web site into perpetuity - even if you quit belly dancing. It's a huge amount of work for me to build a gallery featuring you, and I need for you to be committed to letting me keep it online forever.
  • Of Legal Age. You must be over age 21. I don't want to deal with the legal issues surrounding publication of photos of minors on my web site.


Women of all sizes can bellydance!

How to "Audition" for Consideration?

If you made it this far, then your interest in being featured in the photo galleries must be serious! Here's how to apply for inclusion:

  1. Read this entire article carefully, from beginning to end, to ensure you understand what I'm looking for. I'm looking for people who are easy to work with, and that means people who are willing to take the time to read instructions and understand my needs.
  2. Find a place on the Internet such as, Photo Bucket, your own web site, or somewhere else to post a few examples of photos that you believe suit my Requirements to Qualify for Consideration. I recommend choosing three or four photos, though a few more are acceptable. If you wish, these may include multiple photos of the same costume, showing it from various angles.
  3. Make sure your photos in Step 2 above are visible to me. In other words, make sure you don't have any privacy settings in place that would block me from seeing them. For example, I get cranky when someone sends me myspace or facebook links that I can't see due to not being in that person's friends network. Remember, I'm looking for people who are easy to work with, and that means thinking through your communications with me carefully, paying attention to detail, and anticipating my needs.
  4. Send me an email message to bbwdance at shira dot net introducing yourself.
    • Use a subject line of "Bellydance Plus! Application" to ensure I don't lose your message.
    • If you happen to match the criteria in my Top Priorities section, tell me which criteria you match.
    • Include a link on where I can go to look at your sample photos. Please take care to type the link correctly.
    • If your link leads to a large collection of photos, tell me specifically which ones to look at for your "audition".
    • You'll really get my attention if you tell me in your email message what makes you and your photos different or special compared to the photos that are already in my galleries today.
    • If you use a spam filter, be sure to configure it to accept email replies from me.
    • Make a statement confirming that you are familiar with my terms & conditions and that you agree to them.

Thank you for taking the time to read my "audition" guidelines, and thank you for your interest in this web site!


Women of all sizes can bellydance!

The contents of this page are copyrighted 2008 by Julie Anne Elliot. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is forbidden.