Calling All Curves

Purple Ladies [ columnist Lissa Angeline co-moderates our main Hoop Community forum, along with our new Curvy Hoopers group. She’s on a mission with a contest challenge.]

by Lissa Angeline

Hello. My name is Lissa, and I am a Curvy Hooper. Recently it has come to my attention that people think we hoopers of size exist in numbers so small, we make the Siberian White Tiger look prolific. Now, I know that’s ridiculous, because when I go to hoop workshops, I am certainly not the only curvalicious wonder swinging a hoop around, oh my no. In the real world, I see plenty of hoopers who, like me, have a little extra padding. I have utterly lost count of the number of forum posts I’ve seen asking, “How do I chest hoop when I’m a D-cup?”

And yet. On my videos, I receive comments and messages from people who tell me they’re so happy to see someone who looks like them making hoop videos. Like they never see such a thing! But when I think about it, when I especially think back to when I first started hooping…I realize they have a point.


I’d like to say that you’re being silly, because I know other plus size hoopers are at least on my basic to intermediate level. Most of you are much better, actually, and are truly joyful to watch. But you and I know that when it comes to putting ourselves on the internet – the permanent record to beat all permanent records – skill is possibly not the first thing your casual observer is going to be thinking about.

Let’s address four things that I am pretty sure we think about when we consider putting ourselves out there.

1) There is no way I will look anything but foolish. Hoopers are supposed to be tiny and toned.

Says who? The only reason you think that is because it seems like the majority of hoopers are superfit and toned. And the only reason it seems like that’s the majority is because they’re the ones who are willing to put themselves online. The more curvy hoopers who put videos out, the less people will think we don’t exist or are a minority. Disgustingly logical, aren’t I? And yet I promise there are people who would love to see your videos, really there are. The community wants to see hoopers of all shapes and sizes doing their thing and dancing their hearts out!

2) People will laugh. The internet is full of trolls and awful, negative people.

That there are cruel, hateful people online is unfortunately true. But what is also true is that there are steps you can take to protect yourself. You can disable comments on your videos. You can even disable embedding so that the video doesn’t get picked up and passed around anywhere you don’t want it to go (note: this also prevents people you don’t mind distributing your video from doing so though too). Personally, I choose to not upload videos to YouTube, preferring to use Vimeo instead, because while I have been abused within three days of putting up a video on YouTube, I have not been harassed at all in the three years I have been on Vimeo. Could be I’m just uncommonly lucky, but I really think it’s just that Vimeo is a better climate.

Consider this, too: anyone who is pointing and laughing at you from their desk and keyboard is a) cowardly and b) not up on their feet moving and doing something totally cool. Why are you worried about what they think? Concern yourself with the inevitable praise and love you’ll receive from the community you know instead. We love you. We are here for you.

3) I’m so clumsy, I don’t know all of those tricks.

That’s…not really a problem that’s limited to curvy hoopers. I swear it’s really, really not. Everyone drops hoops on the floor or throws them at their pets by accident or scuffs up the walls. EV.ER.Y.ONE . I have video proof. And not everyone picked up a hoop and was able to do kick-outs or chest rolls on their first day. Like anything else, it takes practice.

I find that videotaping your practice sessions helps, anyway. You can see what you can tweak to make barrel rolls work for you, and you have footage that you can splice into compilation videos later. I think this is what the cool kids call a “win-win.”

4) I don’t have any cute outfits to wear like those fit people. And I could never bare my tummy.

Yeah. My first video? Done in shorts and a tank top. The one after that? My pajamas. After that? Jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, flowing skirts, and by the way, never a bare midriff in sight, thank you. No one is asking you to bare your tummy or to cram yourself into booty shorts and fuzzy leg cover things. Wear what is comfortable for you! This is not a fashion show, this is you showing off your awesome hoop skills. I’ve seen “normal sized” hoopers do videos in pajamas or tracky pants, too. Fun outfits for hooping are the bonus, not the rule.

But if you DO want cute outfits, they’re out there. If you’re crafty, you can make ruffled trousers that are the most adorable things we’ve ever seen and look just as awesome on curvy girls as the non-curvy. Do you go to Renaissance Festivals? I picked up a pair of wrap pants at one that I layer under a sleeveless top and a flouncy skirt and…well. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I look absolutely cute as a button in that outfit. The trick is seeing your curves as something to decorate and flatter rather than hide, which is a good point for your every day fashion as well, come to think about it.

I know that shooting down all the worry points is not going to bring other curvy hoopers out into the light overnight. It’s hard to let go of the fear of judgment all at once. The thing is, I think you’ll find as I did that even people who pre-judge you before watching any video you make will do a 180 by the end and be praising your skills.

My point is this: COME OUT, CURVY HOOPERS! COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE! Come play! We’re waiting to welcome and love you, to play with you and praise your skills. Come out. Make your videos. Join us in the brand-spanking new Curvy Hoopers group and forum on and bask, bask, bask in the light. We can’t wait to see you.

Need more incentive? The Curvy Hoopers Video Challenge starts now. Between now and Friday, February 4th, 9pm PST, make a hooping video of yourself and share it in our new forum. My curvy co-moderator Jennifer Rice and I, along with Philo of, will decide on one lucky winner that will walk away with a brand new custom-made glamour hoop from Tailspin Hoops and a six-month pass to Hooping University. Join us in changing the climate for plus size hoopers and create greater curvy hooper visibility.


Lissa Angeline Lissa Angeline is co-moderator of our Curvy Hoopers group and forum, as well as our main Hoop Community. She lives in Hurst, Texas.

42 thoughts on “Calling All Curves

  1. I am not a curvy hooper, however I am a hoop fitness instructor and have lots of students who are curvy. Seeing more videos of curvy people hooping would be very encouraging to them. I see videos of all body types hooping well and I always pass this on to my students, so they know hooping is possible for all shapes!

  2. Go Lissa! I’m so proud of this inspiring post! I am a curvy woman, and I’ve always thought I was comfortable in my curves. Till I started hooping and then I relised I was beautiful and could do something amazing but I let the thought of others hide my hooping. I take the challenge Lissa! 🙂

  3. Wow! I never thought that being curvy was an issue! First, I guess this is mostly a women’s issue, male hoopers probably have their own issues :). But, for women, I think curvy is more attractive than stick thin when it comes to hooping. Curves match the round shape of the hoop and to me a curvy woman looks better hoop dancing. I recently noticed belly dancers have started to get thinner, and I also think that takes away from that art form. So, flaunt it if you’ve got it is my opinion!

  4. Lissa, you rock so hard. This simply could not have been better said. I CANNOT wait to see what’s going to come of this contest … and general call (nay, welcoming, open-armed invitation!) to curvier hoopers. Hmmm, I better start brainstorming 🙂

    Curvy hoopers, allow me to second what Lissa said: “We love you. We are here for you.” Let’s bring it!

  5. Beautiful. The reason I love hooping is because everyone, no matter their shape, color, or occupation can do it with authenticity. I can also say every woman I have ever met (myself included) no matter if they are lean or padded, has body issues.
    We come to love what we have because we embrace it. The hoop allows us to move ourselves and gives us feedback about where we are in the space around us. No one moves the same, even if they are the same shape. So it teaches us to soften and move with our own authenticity if what we have in this moment. That is each of our gifts.

    So embrace your gift of you! Look away from the magazines at the grocery store that sabotage every woman’s self-image (even those people don’t actually look like that thanks to digital editing). Instead, look inward and pick up your hoop. If you don’t love what you have, you soon will. When comfortable, post a video. We would all love to see you being you. 😀

  6. Thank you for posting this!!! When i started hooping i was fit and taught swim lessons, well I have gained30lbs this yr due to some crazy life stressors and have been trying to get back out in the hoop community only to feel too “fat”, bc literally they would all be in bikinis and i was the only plus size, i think my body still rocks! But when everyone else is a size0 sometimes you’d rather just stay in your backyard. I can hoop badass and i need to stop hiding! Thank you for postinv this again!!! No matter our shape or abilities, when we all get together and hoop its a beautiful sight we should not hide!

  7. I’m so happy I found this article!!! I’m not exactly “plus size” but I am “curvy”, I’m in my late teens, so weight is a massive issue, and I feel I wouldn’t ever be able to show my talent, as my belly pops out a little.
    The part about the “D-cups” is so true! At first I thought, how on earth?! But now I find them more of an assistance!!

  8. Lissa…. THANK YOU!

    I was just trying to get my friend to hoop the other day and she said ‘well, all I see are people who are really skinny and toned, and I won’t look like that.’ I’ll admit that was one of my first thoughts when I started hooping as I was over 200 lbs then, though as the days pass I start to care less and less what naysayers will think, and start enjoying the self-appreciating tool that the hoop truly is.

    It took me two months before I would record myself hooping at all. Once I did I thought ‘Hmm… Now actually, that doesn’t look half bad!’ I hope this will inspire a multitude of curvy hoopers who were worried about these things… smaller hoopers too!

    Thanks for being gutsy and throwing this challenge out there on the table!

  9. Great article, Lissa! This topic has been bouncing around my brain for a few weeks. I am not a huge fan of watching myself hoop. In fact I think I have only made and posted one video. My earlier excuse was being technically challenged in not having a camera, etc. I don’t have that excuse anymore. I recently made a video as part of my hoop certification process. Did not enjoy the reviewing/editing process at all. But I need to get past that. And I know that documenting your own personal process and progress is a helpful tool, therefore I need that too. I promise that I will start capturing parts of my practice on camera. Not sure how fast posting will follow.

  10. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. Lately I have felt like I am not a part of the hoop community because of my size. In fact, I am about to head out to a Hoop Path Workshop that I have been nervous about. The only reason I have been nervous is because of my size and feeling like the other hoopers won’t think I belong or that my skills will be under par because of my size.
    This article came at the exact right moment for me. I can’t thank you enough. Much love to you.

  11. one of the things i love SO much about the hoop community is that it is so friendly of people of all walks of life…size, gender, ethnicity, etc. it feels to me to be so inclusive, and all the hoopers i know are so incredibly non-judgemental (maybe it’s a pennsylvania thing!). i am not a stick-thin girl by any means but i feel pretty good about my body most of the time. hooping helps me to feel even stronger and healthier physically and mentally. i really feel like the hooping community is based so much in positivity that it really helps to break down those stupid societal standards of thin=attractive. what really counts is confidence and making the effort to grow and be ourselves.

  12. I love this article! Thank you!… I know many curvy hoopers and find it frustrating when talking to new hoopers who are convinced that they can’t hoop because they are curvy. I just keep saying, “you don’t know my friends, yet.” Please put videos up so I can point them to you! I am a male hooper and I am hated on all the time by non-hoopers. They don’t know and don’t understand. Don’t let them stop you!!!

  13. It’s about time! 🙂 I have been on both sides of the beauty spectrum…motherhood transformed me from a waif to voluptuous. I see the beauty in both forms. I am also a professor of art history (and a 6 month hooping addict…) I can say that in the history of civilization, curves and weighty substance have a much longer, deeper history as being viewed as ideal, womanly, feminine, healthy, attractive, etc. One of my favorite college lectures (with awesome slides as support) to deliver is about the history of female beauty as depicted in art. Be proud, my curvy sisters, and know that men have admired you throughout time. If you have a hoop…use it, film it, and take your place in history. I plan to do the same.

  14. The first hoop video I ever saw which truly moved me was Lissa dancing to Jar of Hearts. It was a pivotal moment for me. It moved me to tears. I still struggle with my body issues, but hooping has definitely helped, and lovely hoopers with bold spirits like Lissa are truly inspirational!

  15. What a fantastic article Lissa!
    I’m a “skinny” girl myself (I do have my curves, but their obviously not as pronounced as they are on a woman of size), but I absolutely LOVE that you’re encouraging curvier women to show themselves more, rather than just having a go at slimmer women like some people do. This is that way to do it – encourage EVERYONE to show themselves rather than get into the ridiculous “curvy vs skinny” argument.
    No single size is better than another, and the beauty of hooping is that ANYONE can do it. If you’re true to yourself and unashamedly express yourself through the hoop-dance then that is what makes it beautiful, regardless of your body type.
    Can’t wait to see all the videos that this article will undoubtedly inspire. 🙂

  16. Absolutely, and I believe the intention is to address that as well.

    This particular article and forum came up because a forum member stated that she felt she could not comfortably recommend hooping to people because when you do a general video search, you mostly see very fit people – because they are willing to put themselves out there. They’ve become the public face of hooping to a degree, and the poster felt like this might be discouraging at best and psychologically harmful at worst to people who aren’t like that. Which is not the fault of the fit hoopers or anyone at all really! It’s just a perception based on incomplete data.

    Our goal at this time is to turn the notion that only fit folks hoop right on its head and show that the hooping community is actually very diverse and there is a place for everyone. To do that, hoopers who aren’t really toned and tiny need to put more videos out to increase visibility, and to do that they need to feel as safe and welcomed as possible. So that’s where we are going with this particular thing, but I am definitely not ignoring body issues as a whole. I hope that made sense!

  17. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I hear you and I answer! For the past 5 1/2 years, my weekday has not started without email, and dear abby 🙂 I’m always lurking on the outskirts of the hoop community, with the exceptions of a few small peeps on tribe in 2008. No more. Today, I made a practice vid, just messing around with twins. When I watched it, the 1st thing I think is “hello gut – I’m gonna delete this without even watching it.” Instead, I’m gonna post it, with all the drops and the flinging at the pet. (note small orange head on right) So to my fellow curvy hoopers and hoopers with body image issues, hello, hello!
    And Philo, sometimes I want strip down to my skivvies and hoop through the streets of Tujunga. Thanks.

  18. If you can do it, you’re NOT TOO CURVY, and if you can do it you’re NOT TOO OLD. I’d love to hear from some other “seniors”, I know you’re out there. I’m 65+ AND curvy, but there are very few moves I haven’t at least tried, except for jumping through the hoop because of a trick knee. I recently came “out of the closet” by hooping in the front yard for the whole world to see. There is nothing that makes me feel younger or sexier than hooping and I hope to be doing it when I’m 80 or even older.

  19. Thank you for writing this. I love the quote, “anyone who is pointing and laughing at you from their desk and keyboard is a) cowardly and b) not up on their feet moving and doing something totally cool.”

    Absolutely! As an “Over 40” hooper, I know I get talked about behind my back (and sometimes in front!) by friends who think my hooping addiction is some kind of mid-life crises. Hooping makes my whole body smile. Why wouldn’t I want to continue to be joyous for as long as I can, and share that with others? Your article is inspiring.

  20. Great article, with good encouragement! However, I do disagree with this:
    Perhaps SOME curvy hoopers are in hiding (and, I’m sure, some not-curvy hoopers are as well, for similar reasons), but to say that ALL curavlicious hoopers are purposely lying low? I think that’s a bit much.

    I think this because I was hooping for nearly a full year before I’d even heard of Brecken Rivara, an obviously high profile hooper. It wasn’t until recently that I’d watched a video of Babz Robinson. And it wasn’t until Hoopcamp 2010 that I heard the names KiT or Revolva (and many others).

    What I’m saying is — just because I hadn’t heard of these hoopers doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist. Another case in point — after watching your Hoopie-nominated video last year, I didn’t hear or see anything from you until recently (thank goodness for Twitter!). But that didn’t mean that you were hiding, that just meant that our digital paths hadn’t crossed.

    So, to sum my rambling comment up, I think that YES, we hoopers (curvy or not) wouldn’t be hurt by putting ourselves out there a little more. But anonymous hoopers aren’t necessarily hiding, they might just not like the internets.

  21. Ha! Yeah, I think that those of us to whom the “You all are hiding” was addressed KNEW Lissa was talking to us! I’m sure the handful of visible plus-size hoopers didn’t count themselves in that group. And the non-internet lovers wouldn’t be reading it anyway 🙂

    Personally, it was the kick in the patootie I needed to admit that my go-to excuses (“My hooping is just SUCH a private thing …,” “The last thing the hooping world needs is another backyard hooping youtube contribution…” “After nine years, my first video had better be epic …”) were just that. Excuses. I’ve had SO much fun planning and practicing for my video and can’t remember why I was so reticent about it.

  22. what a beautiful article! I completely agree that the first time I attempted chest hooping I blamed my D’s for messing it all up, but I sincerely believe that you’re mind is the only thing that can limit your hooping abilities!

  23. A year and a half behind… I made my very first hoop video the night before last and it was just to see. I was so nervous I barely even looked at the camera the whole 20 minutes it was on! So tonight as I was contemplating cutting it up into smaller bits and posting it I thought I’d seek out other big girls who hoop and viola! Here we are. I’m glad to know I’m not alone and now I’m totally stoked to make a video and post it. This time I’ll even look at the camera! 🙂

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