Standing in front of the mirror and trying on a beautiful new dance costume- heaven, right? But for numerous dancers around the world, this is the moment they dread. “Omg, look at those hips…no wonder I’m not making the finals look at those crooked legs….why is my belly poking out so much?”

And on and on it goes, into a downward spiral of frustration and self-hate.

Everyone has moments where we feel less attractive, fit, and beautiful than we are, but a severely negative body image can damage your self-confidence and stop you from achieving and enjoying success.

What is body image? Why do we talk about it so much and why does it matter? Read on to find out and check our latest posts to keep up to date with our blog!

DANCE PRACTICE METHODS

Success depends largely on how much time you dedicate to perfecting your performance. We all know practice is an important part of every dancer’s life, but how good are we really at it? We think that learning to practice well is one of the most important things you’ll learn in your career, but it’s also

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5 MISTAKES WHEN CHOOSING A DRESS

So the competitions are back full speed and you might want a new dress, or you’re just starting to compete, maybe you’ve outgrown it. Whatever the reason is, to all applies the same rule. Get the dress that suits your body perfectly. We’ve talked about how your dress can help your dancing in our previous blog, and

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HEALTHY BODY IMAGE IN DANCE

Standing in front of the mirror and trying on a beautiful new dance costume- heaven, right? But for numerous dancers around the world, this is the moment they dread. “Omg, look at those hips…no wonder I’m not making the finals look at those crooked legs….why is my belly poking out so much?” And on and

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CAN YOUR DRESS HELP YOUR DANCING?

We’ve done a post on how to choose the right dance costume for your body shape, but today it’s time to find out whether the right dress can also make your dancing look better. Whatever your body shape, there are lots of options out there for you to choose from but it’s important to choose

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HOW TO KEEP MOTIVATED

“Motivation is the key to success”, “I feel like you lack motivation”, “Stay motivated” Do these statements ring a bell? They sure do for us as we’ve been hearing about the importance of motivation since we started dancing. So, we all know that it’s important. But do you really know what motivation is? Why is

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HOW TO DRESS FOR YOUR BODY SHAPE

Do you know your body type and shape? Knowing your body is key to dressing right. There’s no rule that says which body is right and which is wrong. All are beautiful. However there are some proportions that you might want to look like. That’s when the right clothes come in. You can create an

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wHAT IS BODY IMAGE?

According to Smolak & Mills body image can be loosely defined as the mental representation of our bodies that we hold in our minds- basically, it’s how we see and perceive ourselves. It’s the picture of your appearance you carry around in your mind every single day and it’s often not a realistic representation of reality. 

While body image that is over- positive is possible, it’s much more common to see yourself worse than you are.  Positive or negative body image is a result of many different aspects such as psychological, social, cultural, biological, historical, and individual factors (Cash & Smolak, ).

Most of us are heavily influenced by comments at an early age that can have an impact on whether we end up with positive or negative body image later in life.

IS NEGATIVE BODY IMAGE COMMON IN DANCE?

The answer is yes- a lot of dancers suffer from negative body image. In psychology a difference has emerged between a general body image (that favoured or common in society) and sport-specific body image (typical for a certain discipline). Slim, athletic, and lean physiques are typically favoured in dance and that often leads dancers who are naturally not built in an “ideal” way to feel less adequate and able to reach for the stars. 

One important factor in developing negative body image is the way your coach communicates with you- they’re usually there every step of the way and you often have the same person training and coaching you your whole career. Are they considerate and supportive? Do they choose their words carefully when communicating there may need to be some improvements made as far as diet/workouts? Are they rude and cold about it and is the language hostile or offensive? 

I had a bad case of negative body image for years thanks to one of the teachers in my early years- I still have difficulties believing that there’s really nothing so wrong with the shape of my legs…even two world championship titles and numerous sold-out shows later- just imagine how powerful words can be! Having a healthy, positive body image is an important aspect of mental well-being and preventing the onset of eating disorders so coaches and trainers beware- think and put yourselves in your dancer’s shoes before you speak.

Dancers spend a lot of time in front of the mirror as it’s a part of our daily practice routine. Misty Copelandone of the world’s most famous and inspiring ballerinas, spoke out about it during an interview- watch the clip below.

WHAT IS BODY DYSMORPHIA?

Negative body image that goes unchecked can lead to more serious issues. According to Mayo Clinic, a body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can’t be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations.

Of course, not everyone with a negative body image develops this condition, but it is important to understand what the consequences of not solving our issues could be.

REAL TALK

We’re not here to say that it doesn’t matter how you look on the dance floor. That it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re in shape and that it’s ok to be heavier than you should be, because that would be a lie.

Dance industry is tough and you need to be fit to be able to perform to your maximum. But that doesn’t mean that there’s just that one, “ideal” body type that can win and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to beauty in dance. 

What you absolutely need to do is work on your body so you become the best version of yourself. You can’t change the body type you were born with but you can make your best features shine and work on improving those that need improvement. There’s no perfection out there so stop trying to reach it and become someone else- your body is fine as long as you keep it healthy and fit.

STEPS TOWARDS A POSITIVE BODY IMAGE

1. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS– your body is yours alone and there’s just one of each of us out there. There’s absolutely no need to become someone else, you’re unique and will be successful if you learn to appreciate and work on the physique you have

2. REMEMBER WHAT MIRRORS ARE FOR– why do dance halls have so many mirrors? So you can check your dancing, not your appearance! Focus on your posture, foot actions and hip designs rather than what you look like in that skirt- your technique and your mind will thank you!

3. TALK TO SOMEONE– we all need those special people we know are there for us no matter what. It may be a family member, your dance partner, a coach, a friend or a dance psychologist- surround yourself with positive people and share your thoughts and concerns, it will make you feel much better.

4. APPRECIATE EVERYTHING YOUR BODY CAN DO– those jumps in Jive? Your body does that. That Samba bounce? Yup, your body did it. And remember that performance training where you danced 40 dances in an hour? That was your body too. The bottom line is that your body is quite remarkable- teach yourself to appreciate it’s abilities rather than focusing on the flaws.

 

AND FINALLY...

Remember that we’re all in the same boat- you just saw one of the most beautiful dancers in the world, Misty Copeland, talk about the struggle of negative body image. Have you seen that woman? She is literally picture-perfect but she still gets insecure. And so do we all! 

So stop stressing about what you look like and focus instead on being fit and healthy…and go work on that Forward Walk Turning please! 🙂

If you’re looking for an expert in dance psychology take a look at the work our friend and She’s Just a Dancer podcast guest Lucy Clements does- she’s an amazing person to talk to about all things dance psychology.

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