A Dancer's Body Image
In honor of the Operation Beautiful Book Release, I’ve decided to talk about body issues that I have had over the last 28 years.
For those of you who don’t know, I have danced since I was five years old. I love dance, the feeling of being on stage, the fun of dressing in outrageous costumes. It’s an amazing high. But with dance, comes an incredible focus on your body and how it looks, moves, and bends. I was constantly surrounded by girls who weighed 30 pounds less than I did. When puberty hit, so did the chest. And boobs are not something that are common in the dance world. I swear this is why I’m still convinced that I have a huge chest today.
I remember trying to lose weight in ninth grade. Of course it never worked. I had horrible eating habits. I didn’t eat breakfast. For lunch every day I had a bottle of cran-grape and a super bagel. I would eat junk in the hour I was home between school and dance class. Sometimes I made chocolate chip cookies, just to eat the dough. Or I would binge on candy that I found in the house. Dinner might be grabbing some fast food between classes. Now I don’t want to speak poorly of my parents upbringing. I did have wholesome meals several nights per week as we sat around the dinner table, but left to my devices, it was not good!
My mom recognized these bad habits, but was afraid to say anything and cause an eating disorder (which are so prevalent in the dance community). I knew several girls growing up who had issues with these eating disorders. I guess my eating during high school wasn’t exactly ordered.
Luckily, over the years, I’ve slowly learned what healthy eating is truly about and how it works FOR ME. And while I still don’t have a “dancer’s body” per se, I have gained so much from dance. Physically, I have amazingly muscular legs. I also have a great sense of balance (which helps when trying to ski). Personality wise, I don’t usually have stage fright. I’m very outgoing, and am not so afraid to talk in front of people. Dancing has given me a great hobby and talent, that I can take with me wherever I go. I still try to dance at least once per week. When I get together with my friends from high school, we always end up doing some dance (wedding give a great stage for that). If you or your child dance, please try to see the good things and help them sort through the bad. It’s all worth it in the end. I wouldn’t trade my calves for anything!