Body Image and Eating Disorders Among Young Ballerinas

analytical Essay
1808 words
1808 words

Ballet is a beautiful and romantic type of performance art. It originated in the Italian court systems in the 15th century (Jonas). Since its origination, ballet has undergone many changes and gained worldwide recognition. Filled with elaborate costumes, cheering audiences, lights, weightless movements and beauty; ballet is admired by many. On the magical stage ballerinas can become whoever they wan to be, and perform in a world of fantasy. For these reasons, children, especially little girls, all over the world dream of becoming ballerinas when they grow up. However, becoming a professional ballerina is an extremely difficult accomplishment, in which few will achieve (Kelso 1). The world of ballet may seem to be filled with glitz and glamor but, behind the curtain there is an entirely different story. There are extreme demands and pressures put on these young dancers to be very thin and nearly perfect. Some of which include body and weight demands, competition, and social pressures. These constant pressures can lead to a negative body-image and even debilitating eating disorders (Price and Pettijohn).

“Just as musicians have their instruments, dancers have their bodies” (Price and Pettijohn 991). The body is the only tool in which a dancer has to create art and express themselves. For this reason, there is a constant focus on the body. This constant focus, and constant pressure, can cause the dancers to develop concerns and a negative body image. The term body image can be defined as “the way in which people see themselves in the mirror everyday: the values, judgments, and ideas that they attach to their appearance” (Kelso 1). From childhood people perceive themselves in a certain way. They learn of how to feel about their ...

... middle of paper ... Dangerous, Warns Eating Disorder Expert”. Digital

Journal. 24 February 2011. Web. 27 October 2011.

Dunning, Jennifer. “Eating Disorders Haunt Ballerinas”. New York Times. 16 July 1997: 11. Acedemic Search Premier. Web. 23 Nov. 2011.

Jonas, Gerald. Dancing: The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement. New York: Abrams, 1992. Print.

Kelso, Paula. “Behind the Curtain: The Body, Control and Ballet”. Edwardsville Journal of Sociology. 3:2. (2003). Web. 25 Nov. 2011.

Price, Brena and Pettijohn, Terry. “The Effect of Ballet Dance Attire on Body and Self-Perceptions of Female Dancers”. Social Behavior and Personality. 34.8 (2006): Web. 991-998.

Toro, Josep et al. “Eating Disorders in Ballet Dancing Students: Problems and Risk Factors”. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. And Eating Disorder Association. 28 October 2011. Print.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that ballet is a beautiful and romantic type of performance art. it originated in the italian court systems in 15th century.
  • Explains that the body is the only tool in which a dancer has to create art and express themselves. the term body image can be defined as the way people perceive themselves in the mirror everyday.
  • Explains that dance is a highly competitive, high-pressure and physically demanding profession. dance companies and schools require that their students participate in frequent weigh-ins.
  • Explains that george balanchine, a world renowned dancer and choreographer, set the standards for what the ideal ballerina's body should look like.
  • Analyzes how media and society play large roles in how a young person views their body. the definition of beauty is often portrayed through television, advertisements and film.
  • Explains that ballet dancers must wear tight fitting dance outfits that accentuate every aspect of their body.
  • Explains that price and pettijohn claim that body image concerns in dancers may be partially explained by the presence and use of mirrors in the dance environment.
  • Explains that mirrors have a negative impact on body image and hinder dance skill acquisition. a negative body-image, and an obsession with weight, can cause one to change their eating habits.
  • Explains that anorexia nervosa is a serious psychological and physiological disorder that affects ballet dancers.
  • Explains that bulimia nervosa involves recurring binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting. the prevalence rate is higher in ballet dancers than in the regular adolescent population.
  • Opines that the best chance of successful treatment of eating disorders is in early recognition and intervention.
  • Explains that ballet has been a popular dance form for centuries, but it can be demanding and dangerous. the prevalence of debilitating eating disorders is higher in ballet dancers than it is in the regular population.
  • Cites blanchard, kathleen, and dunning, jennifer. the incidence rate of anorexia in ballet dancers.
  • Analyzes the effect of ballet dance attire on body and self-perceptions of female dancers.
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