Essay on 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 …show more content…
Dance is a “highly competitive, high-pressure and physically demanding profession” (Dunning). Ballet students are constantly monitored on their body weight. Most dance companies have what is called an “appearance clause” written into their contracts. This clause specifies that if a dancer gains an excessive amount of weight she could be released from the company (Kelso 2). For this, many dance companies and schools require that their students participate in frequent weigh-ins (Price and Pettijohn 991). Often times these weigh-ins are unannounced and the dancers are unaware of them. Their weight is recorded and even announced in front of other dancers in the class (Kelso). Through these weigh-ins, dance company directors and teachers constantly push their dancers to be extremely thin. If their weight is too high they will be pressured to loose it. Dancers can be both rewarded or punished based on their weight. A dancer could be rewarded by gaining a role in a ballet, and praised by the directors. On the other hand, if she did not loose the weight she could risk not being cast at all (Kelso). This constant monitoring, embarrassment and scrutiny of there weight cause the dancers to be even more cautious about their weight. The reason that these dancers have to maintain such a low weight is due to the standards set by one individual. George Balanchine is a world renowned dancer and choreographer. One of the major

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