Body Image and Eating Disorders Among Young Ballerinas

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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.

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