In the article written by ballerina Elice McKinley and the keywords essay “Body” by Kelly Hager, both emphasize the negative portrayals of being fat in our society. Hager writes how culture favors the “hyper-thin European ideal of beauty” and literature portrays thin characters as powerful and responsible while heavy characters are seen as passive and powerless. Our society has created negative body images in the minds of much our young adult population where they think they only have value if they are thin.
This mindset is also strongly prevalent in the dance world. Even though dancers, specifically ballerinas, are thin to begin with, they still are a victim of negative body image. McKinley writes how in her off season she, as well as her other dance friends, feel “gross and fat” during their off season. This is a time where they aren’t in rehearsal for six hours everyday and are able to consume more foods they actually enjoy. With this comes a slight gain in weight which for them can be majorly upsetting. Mckinley explains how the strict diet she has followed may make her outward appearance be favorable but in reality, it is destroying her body. She explains how even though she is 29, her body feels like she is 90. Her diet led to a serious injury which four years later still causes her pain and problems.
McKinley further explains how body image is a more serious issue among dancers than many people realize. Being a competitive dancer myself for ten years I can atest to this. When you are forced to stare at yourself in a mirror for twenty hours a week, you compare your body to your peers and start to see flaws in yourself that aren’t actually there. Many dancers suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) where they are persistently preoccupied by a slight, or even nonexistent, flaw of their body. For many dancers, this involves believing they are heavier than they actually are. This can lead to further problems such as eating disorders when they desire to lose weight which they perceive will make themselves in some way better. McKinely states how she’s able to relate to this situation and is something she has seen many of her fellow dancers fight to overcome.
Our society has a created an image of what the perfect body is and many young adults, especially dancers, fight to achieve. The mindset of many is that thin is perfect and desirable. This leads to numerous consequences. Negative body image will continue to be a problem and is only escalated by our society.