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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

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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Body Image

How My Body Image Is Shaped by My Positive Mindset

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A young brunette girl wearing a dark long sleeved shirt smiling, while walking in nature.
New York

I think that body image has affected me emotionally. As we all know, the media portrays unrealistic bodies and women edited down until they aren’t really like real people. Young girls are affected and compare themselves to all those fake people. Even if they look at realistic photos as well, the fake ones stay in the back of their minds.I’ve done it too—looking in the mirror and pinpointing all of the things I hate about myself, but people say, ” data-lasso-id=”837″>yourself of that as often as you can. I think we are taught to nitpick everything about ourselves because society tells us to.

Your friends affect your body body image because you think that if somebody else thinks it, it must be true.

To add on, I did research about this in my junior year of high school. I wrote a 12-page paper about the representation of women in the advertising world. The main thing causing such negative body image is how people are photoshopped to look unrealistic on social media. It’s an important issue and I think a lot needs to change to be where we should be in the future.

Instagram is a major part of the problem. Posting photos of yourself and photos portraying a life that isn’t necessarily real is causing others to compare themselves to you. It is this never-ending cycle of girls comparing themselves to each other. It’s a big issue.

Though there has been a lot of ignorance on the subject, I think people don’t realize that companies are going in the right direction. For example, the company called Aerie, stopped retouching their ads, though they still choose certain types of girls.

Even the company, Eileen Fisher, focuses on older women who are living their lives with success and are smart and powerful; I think that’s really nice to see.

Teach yourself every day to look in the mirror and say ‘this is what I love about my body’ rather than this is what I don’t like about it.’

My favorite part of my body is my arms, and I’ve always really liked having freckles. I used to have more of them and I actually miss them. My arms also have my freckles, so I think that’s why I like them.

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