I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking (again) about body image–but less about what I look like and more about how I feel in the studio.
As dancers, we spend our days standing in front of mirrors just trying to GET BETTER for hours at a time. There’s always room to improve as an artist, new styles, better efficiency, etc. etc. etc, but what other profession do you know promotes such a vain mission statement? I propose an addendum, I think there’s a second part missing that needs to plastered on the walls of every dance studio in the world:
GET BETTER within the potential of your own facility…nobody else’s.
I feel like a lot of us grow up with this image of what a dancer should be, but the thing is, that dancer doesn’t actually exist. The posters that lined the walls of my room as a little girl, (and probably yours too) were posed bodies that may or may not be stunning dancers when they’re not sitting in a pile of rose petals pointing their beautifully arched feet. It was my own thoughts that made her the dancer I strived to become for so many years.
In real life I’m normal sized, in the studio however I’m a little bit thicker than what you’d probably imagine a ‘dancer’ should look like, mostly because I have curves…
My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard…but no, you can’t touch my humps.
…I said it…
I will never be that dancer wearing pointe shoes in a rose petal extravaganza, I will however be the dancer athletically moving in and out of the floor faster than you can say “unrealistic ideals”. It took me a while to realize that I still win.
We assign importance to certain ideas or images based on our own personal value sets, and devalue others without giving much thought to where our own bodies fit into that spectrum of extremes. If we work to create an environment where our individual quirks are looked at as positive idiosyncrasies rather than stepping-stones that take us further away from perfection, then we no longer have to hate ourselves for failing.
Being healthy is more than just eating by the guidelines of the food pyramid; you have to think healthily before the rest can follow.