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Body Image

How I Have A Positive Body Image as a Dancer

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A young lady with light brown hair wearing a shirt with designs on it stands in front of a tree.
Owego, NY

‘Body image’ are two words left unspoken in the dance world, though they constantly pick at every dancer’s brain. We, as dancers, cannot help but compare our bodies to other dancers in the room—no matter at what age.

The mirrors that span the entire length of the wall don’t help either. They open the abyss of constant critique, self-loathing and depreciation for one’s body. These mirrors condemn any notion of body positivity because even the skinniest of dancers don’t think they are skinny enough.

In the nineteen years of my dance training thus far, I can honestly say I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of what the words ‘body image’ does to the dancer.

I remember tenth grade being a particularly high-strung year for body image among the other tenth grade dancers in my studio. One girl, in particular, a role model for many younger dancers at the studio, starting shaming anyone who came into the studio with fast food.

One time, she was asked if she wanted a bite of someone’s burger and she accepted the offer, only to chew the tiny bite in her mouth and then spit it out in the garbage. ‘I just do it for the taste,’ she said, ‘That way I don’t get all those calories.’

It wasn’t even a week after this when I stopped seeing other dancers bring unhealthy foods in the studio. I question if this is because they wanted to eat healthier, like the said ‘role model,’ or if it was because they didn’t want to be humiliated for their own preference of food.

This same ‘role model’ started the trend of walking straight up to the mirror at the beginning of class, lifting her shirt up and eyeing the width of her torso moving slightly from side to side.

It is worth noting here that not everyone followed in these habits of hers. Some of my friends along with myself found her habits disgusting and uncalled for.

We were tenth graders! We danced for nearly fifteen hours each week! No one in that studio needed to worry or be self-conscious about their body image.

In those younger years of my dancing, I never really watched what I ate. I knew with the hours put into my dance training that whatever I ate would be burned off just like that. However, I realized these eating habits wouldn’t last forever.

Currently, I am an MFA candidate at The College at Brockport on track to receive my master’s degree in Choreography/Performance. Although my course schedule allows me to dance every day and teach at a dance studio at night, I’ve learned it is not enough to burn my calories off my body.

As a result, I make more healthy choices in my diet. This is not to say I have a problem with my body image, but it does show my efforts to maintain the healthy body image I have now.

I say this, but then my mind jumps to the media and what we see on social media, on commercials and billboards, and I question this healthy body image I have now.

There seems to be this constant push for either super skinny, thigh-gap, fragile, delicate women or women who have super toned muscles, tan bodies and could model workout clothes for a living. So, what happens if you fall in-between these two categories like me? Or, what if you don’t fall into any category at all?

I think the best advice I can give myself or anyone who may struggle to embrace their body is to avoid the temptation to compare ourselves to others. No two people are ever going to look the same, so why chase an image that can’t be reached?

I think it is important to look at other bodies for goals and motivation, but at the end of the day, your body is your body. You need to do what’s best for you, not for the media, your family or your significant other. No one else gets to live in your skin except you.

It kills me to witness people who have mentally been sucked into the stream of media that tells them their body isn’t good enough. You being positive about your body image is enough.

When you look at yourself in the mirror and value your uniqueness as an individual and not as a victim of fitness propaganda, you will realize YOU are enough.

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Body Image

Sing for the World: Students Honor the Loss of Their Beloved Friend

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Kyle, posing in front of the camera in a black shirt while holding up a portable keyboard.

Loss is all around the world today; it’s inevitable. For Kyle Robinson, it came too soon. To remember the multi-talented, fun spirit of Kyle, Victoria Christie and her friends came together to create a foundation in his name. 

With the hopes of creating a scholarship for students interested in being a part of the music industry, Tori’s story inspires all that good things can come out of tragedy. The heart of the foundation is to provide opportunities for those who want to create music and go to school to study it so they can one day make music for the world to hear.

Music is food for the soul. For some people, it is all they have to turn to. For others, it’s how they express themselves. For Victoria Christie, it’s her passion and her future. 

As a senior Music Industry voice major at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, Tori has spent the last three years of her life learning how to engineer and produce songs in the studio and what it is like to work for a publishing company.

The College of Saint Rose’s Music Industry program allows students to prepare themselves for the fast-paced, competitive world of music. Being accepted into this program provides students a tight-knit community where everyone can connect through their devotion to music.

Tori and her friends were lucky to have Kyle Robinson in their year. Kyle, also a Music Industry voice major, was a passionate musician. He was in a couple of bands, one called Pacer Test and the other named Waitress, in both of which he played instruments and sang. 

Kyle had many aspirations to perform, but also really enjoyed producing music. He helped anyone who needed further instruction and produced many rising musicians’ songs, including Grace Damon’s “Through the Night” and “Honey.”

Kyle, performing at a venue with a band, singing into the microphone, person playing bass in the background.
Source:

Unexpectedly, on his way back to Albany after returning home for the Fourth of July, Kyle was in a tragic car accident that took his life. 

Those who knew Kyle found solace in the fact that they were not alone. “You would think that you and Kyle [were the only ones who] had something special,” Tori said. “Then hearing everyone [else] talk about Kyle, you realize that he really did have something special with everyone and everyone is feeling the same way.” 

Kyle was 21 years old and had his whole life ahead of him. For Tori and her friends, it is the first major loss they had experienced in their lives. Staying together and figuring out how to grieve is comforting during such a difficult time. “We are not the only ones going through it, and we don’t have to go through it alone,” Tori explained. “Even if we struggle, we struggle together, and we figure it out.”

Within the first week of Kyle’s passing, there was talk about starting a scholarship in Kyle’s name. Tori and her friends knew the family had asked for donations to their local high school instead of covering the cost of flowers at the service.

Someone then suggested the creation of a scholarship that people could donate to. Creating the scholarship was a collective decision because everyone wanted to keep Kyle’s spirit alive in some way.

“He was just that kind of person where even if you talked to him for two seconds, he made your day better,” Tori described. “He was the perfect balance of sarcastic and the funniest person you’ll ever meet but also very loving and respected [by] everyone.”

Kyle in a black shirt, balancing a keyboard on a persons back as they are bent over.
Source:

Together, Tori and her friends are creating the Kyle Robinson Memorial Foundation. Currently, the group is in the paperwork process of setting it up. Their first major goal is to establish a fund for a scholarship that can give a substantial amount of money to someone who embodies Kyle’s characteristics and passion.

Their aim is to begin accepting donations in January 2021. While they are getting set up, those who are interested in receiving updates on the foundation can send an email to christiev490@strose.edu to be put on an email list.

Although the process is not simple, creating the foundation is something that will help everyone heal. It provides a distraction from the pain they are feeling. It also keeps the group together, even if life separates them after graduation this year. Tori and her friends will not let grief consume them. Instead, they are making Kyle’s death mean something.

“I feel like Kyle’s spirit was the type of spirit that you really don’t want to live without, and so I think [this foundation] will help a lot of people and I hope it will.” 

The Kyle Robinson Memorial Foundation will provide future students the opportunity to pursue their passion for music even if it seems impossible. It will help a student pay to go to a university and get the best advantage they can in the music industry. And most importantly, to those who knew and loved Kyle, it will keep Kyle Robinson’s memory alive.

Tragic things happen and the world doesn’t seem fair, but I think good can come out of anything.”

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Body Image

How I Strive to Become a Better Version of Myself

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A girl standing and smiling in front of a blue wall wearing a white shirt and red headband.
Killingworth, CT

I’m most insecure about my stomach because every time I eat, I feel like it looks a lot bigger. It feels uncomfortable and looks weird to me, compared to the perfect bodies we see through the media, all day every day.

We are conditioned to believe that the standards we see in the media are what we should strive for in real life, no matter how unattainable they really are. This creates expectations that are extremely difficult to meet in people’s perspectives of themselves, but also in how they expect others to be or look like.

Social media makes us constantly compare ourselves to everyone. It makes us feel jealous and inferior to models that have perfectly thin bodies.

It starts to make us even feel worse about ourselves because of the way everyday people try to put out the best image of themselves as possible even if it’s fake like photoshopped or edited with an app.

Constantly seeing perfect people, living perfect lives, that people show off on social media, have an impact on the way people see themselves and others, and ultimately how they live their lives.

When my body is in better shape, I feel much more confident and my self-esteem is higher. But when I’m not in good shape, I feel a lot worse about myself.

When I make an effort to start eating better and working out regularly, I feel better not only physically, but mentally and emotionally in the way that I see myself. But during times where I’m not motivated about my health, I’m a lot more self-conscious and down on myself.

I wish I could just be light without having to worry about what I eat. At the end of the day, eating healthy and working out makes me feel better about myself, and it’s how I try to cope with my insecurities when I’m not feeling great about my body.

You should learn to love your body for your own self, and not because society stereotypically says you should.

You should not try to live your life trying to be someone you wish you could be, but rather strive to become a better version of your own self.

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Body Image

How I Improved My Perception of My Body

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A girl with dark hair, wearing a blue jacket and white shirt, sitting down, smiling
Monroe, CT

I think high school was where everyone started having insecurities. High school is a very challenging place for most people, including myself. I was taller than most of the girls at school so it was already difficult for me to fit in.

Thinking about it now, I always perceived myself as bigger than the other girls when really I wasn’t. I used to have insecurities with my legs and stomach. I thought I was just on the chubby side, but I was really just taller.

I just had no idea what my body was doing to me at the time. I’d just tell myself that I would just start being healthy and watch what I eat. I ended up not eating at all.

That spiraled out of control to the point where I ended up being anorexic. It just got out of control for the most part.

While I was going through that, I still thought I was bigger than other girls. When people talk about body image issues, it is always perceived as being overweight or eating too much.

Anorexia is not being talked about when it comes to these types of issues and I think it should be. I did end up going to therapy for about two years and that helped a lot.

My therapist was also a nutritionist, so she showed me what healthy things to eat without starving myself. She showed me I could eat and that I did not have to starve myself.

She also taught me to take better care of myself such as working out and meditating. I needed that more than anything.

We aren’t meant to look alike. It doesn’t really matter what you look like, but it matters how you feel about yourself. Your perception of your body comes first.

When I was growing up, social media wasn’t as popular as it is now. I would say social media definitely plays a huge role when it comes to body image issues and insecurities in general.

Seeing all these Instagram models showing their perfect bodies really takes a toll on young peoples’ body images.

Whether I gain weight or lose weight, it is okay at the end of the day because that’s not what’s important in life. What’s important is how I am to reach happiness in life.

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