Unfortunately, eating disorders have been a huge part of the dance industry for years. Dancers force themselves to fit into the "perfect ballerina" mold even if their bodies aren't built that way. However, with the influx of new, curvy, muscular dancers being accepted into prestigious dance companies, it gives us hope that those of us who are built a little differently can still have a successful career in dance.
With that said, I'd like to share a portion of my book, A Dancer's Diary...
Appearance is everything in this day and age. We focus so much effort on how we look instead of how we feel on the inside. Nobody wants to be an outsider; thus, we try to fit in by making ourselves more fashionable, thinner, or we change our personalities altogether.
Quite a few dancers feel that they must go to the extreme when it comes to fitting in with the “perfect” ballerina mold. This can oftentimes lead to eating disorders that will ultimately damage their bodies and cause many illnesses. Dancers, or just your ladies in general, can succumb to an eating disorder much easier if they already struggle with depression, a sense of loneliness, or if they feel a lack of control within their environment.
Coming into acceptance is the first thing you need to do to become a healthier person. If you do not accept your body and who you are, how do you expect others to accept you? Believe me, people will know when you accept yourself. You will exude confidence that will inspire others. They will end up enjoying your company and will want to be around you because you accept who you are. You are beautiful just the way God made you and nobody can tell you otherwise.
Do not look in the mirror and think of all the things you would like to change. Instead, look at yourself and say, “I am beautiful! Today I choose to be beautiful inside and out.” This can be difficult for some dancers because they are dancing in front of a mirror all throughout class, picking out every wrong movement they are doing or noticing the differences between classmates and themselves. Look at your own attributes that you enjoy and appreciate about yourself and use them to their full potential.
I know that some of this is much easier said than done. That is why you must surround yourself with people who will listen to you if you are struggling and be there for you to encourage you through the tough times. There is so much pressure, not just in dance, but in everyday life to be a certain way. I'm here to tell you that you are already beautiful, you are already strong and capable, you are already incredible just the way you are.
If you would like to read the whole chapter on eating disorders, check out A Dancer's Diary. I have dedicated an entire chapter on inspiring those who either have friends with eating disorders or those who have one themselves. You don't have to suffer alone. You are loved!
Have a beautiful day,