It’s no secret that young girls often struggle with self-esteem and body image, often due to the ultra-thin celebrities they idolize and the media’s portrayal of the “ideal” female figure. Here’s some advice for improving dancer body image.
Facts About Body Image
Whether you’re a studio owner, dance teacher or student, you probably realize that body image is a problem among many girls. But do you know just how prominent this issue is? Here are some facts that may surprise you:
- According to statistics compiled by the University of Washington, 53 percent of American girls are unhappy with the way they look at age 13. By the time these young women are 17, 78 percent are displeased with their bodies.
- Almost 95 percent of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, according to DoSomething.org.
- A study published in the journal Psychopathology showed that non-elite ballerinas have the highest prevalence of eating disorders among non-professional athletes. The research involved 113 ballerinas – more that 20 percent exhibited unhealthy eating behaviors.
- According to research from Emory University, dancers often use studio mirrors to compare themselves to other students, and this can lead to negative thoughts about their own bodies.
One of the most important things that dancers can take away from these statistics is that you’re not alone!
If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy body image, chances are that some of your peers are as well.
How to Improve Your Body Image
Ready to turn the tables and start loving your body? Here are some tips for dancers who are less than happy with their reflections. Dance teachers – take note! These points may come in handy if you ever need to help a dancer with body issue problems.
- Recognize Critique as Helpful
Whether you aspire to be a professional dancer or are simply devoted to the discipline of dance, you’re going to be subject to critique from time to time, and some of it won’t be easy to hear. Dance Advantage explained that it’s important to externalize criticisms and realize that your teachers and coaches are helping you to improve. They’re not trying to be mean or hurtful, so try not to take their comments to heart.
- Find a Healthy Role Model
Instead of looking to the usual celebrities as role models, try to find a healthy, happy individual to emulate. This could be someone you know – a friend, teacher or coach – or an athlete who practices positive body image. One particularly inspiring dancer who may serve as a good role model is Misty Copeland. Check out the video below, where she explains how she chose to shake off the criticisms of her body and join a ballet company that embraces her just the way she is!
- Don’t Compare—Be Yourself
Ultimately, a dancer has to find their own strengths—and that includes their specific physical traits. Own your physique, and incorporate the confidence in your unique and special body into every move. Like Misty Copeland, you may not fit the “traditional” mold of your genre of dance, and that’s ok! Bring your own special persona and physicality to your art!