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The Ballet Physique as Molded by Media

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“mass media is one of the principal factors behind body dissatisfaction, concerns about

weight, and disordered eating behavior”( Levine, Murnen 2009).

The media acts as an influential force where society’s views of body image and health are used to brainwash the minds of its consumers. The constant pressure exuded by the media affects many individuals in society. Whether it is an ad on a passing bus, or a commercial broadcasted into family homes, the media finds its way to penetrate and convey certain perceptions of body and health. Women are predominantly affected by this narrow view. Particularly looking at female ballet dancers, the media portrays a one-sided view of the ballet physique, broadcasting a restricted ideology to the community. Similar to many art forms, ballet is highly scrutinized, and is full of cultural and historical ideas. Media plays a huge part in the perception of these idealistic views of the of the ballet image. A specific example of this is the Hollywood film “Black Swan”, where a ballerina is portrayed as having an eating disorder. Ultimately, through “Black Swan”, various magazine articles, and recent studies on the issue, media’s limited and restricted beliefs about body image in ballet are able to resonate through to the general public.

Ballet dancers have always been expected to resemble a certain body type. They are known to be “very thin with small breasts and narrow hips; their legs are long and lean; their arms are long and slender; their torsos are short with a flat stomach and abdomen; their heads are small atop a long, slender neck.”(Ritenburg 75) George Balanchine, a famous artistic director and choreographer for the New York City Ballet, first desired this physique for the modern balle...

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Oliver, W. 2005. "Reading the ballerina’s body: Susan Bordo sheds light on Anastasia Volochkova and Heidi Guenther." Dance Research Journal, 37, no. 2: 38–54.

Ribeiro, L. G., and G. V. da Veiga. "Risk Behaviors for Eating Disorders in Brazilian Dancers." International Journal of Sports Medicine 31.4 (2010): 283-288. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 18 Feb. 2011.

Ritenburg, Heather Margaret. "Frozen landscapes: a Foucauldian genealogy of the ideal ballet dancer's body." Research in Dance Education 11.1 (2010): 71-85. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 22 Feb. 2011.

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