somewhat controlled rants

Continuation of a Silent Struggle

5:24:00 PM

hi.


The following is a very honest, candid, and unfiltered description of my personal struggle with a negative body image. (this connects back to A Silent Struggle--read that post if you haven't already.) I just know I want to write out some of my emotions right now. Please note that I have no idea where I'm going with this, so bear with me :)


the struggle



There are days where I feel absolutely fine. Those days, I look at myself in the mirror and accept my shorter legs and longer torso and accept that they are a part of me, and even find myself grateful because of the things they allow me to do. Those days, I look at myself and understand, hey, it’s me. I may not have these ideal proportions but I am unique, and my body is fine the way it is. Because I also know that my body's worth is its function, not it's look.


But.


There are also other days, when I internally panic at my own image in the mirror. Because oh no, did my thighs get thicker? Oh no, are my legs really that short? Oh no, they seemed longer and thinner yesterday oh no do other people see my legs like this oh no I look so ugly oh no nothing makes sense oh no, what do I even look like? Oh no, I shouldn’t be worrying about these things...


But I am.


I know there will be people who say that I cannot let these thoughts run rampant in my mind. I totally agree. But, like I said, this is a very honest blog post... as much as I would like to present this image of myself that is always mentally stable, I am not. I'm not saying I shouldn't do anything about these negative thoughts, but I am admitting that these thoughts are sometimes there, though thankfully, far less frequently than before. But they are there. I'm not hiding that anymore.


Why is it that even when I know that I should be grateful for my healthy body and relatively “good” ballet proportions, even when I know that there is no such thing as a “wrong” body type, even when I know my body's worth is not defined by any ideals whatsoever… i still find myself feeling the way I do?


These days, I look at myself in the mirror, and I feel hurt. Scared.
Hurt by my own body, afraid that my own body will be the barrier to my dreams. Hurt because I hate these stupid visual ideals, but also understand why they are there, hurt because I can't help but worry because of these stupid, stupid, stupid, ideals. Hurt that I am hurt, disappointed that I am hurt, angry that I am hurt, and so, deathly afraid of not being able to achieve my dream because of the way my body was born.


These days suck.


Not only do I feel all these things, but these things also distract me from the infinite amount of corrections I need to be focusing on in ballet class. These days, I hate myself for focusing on the thickness of my legs rather than the placement of them, for focusing on such horrible thoughts that shouldn't be there. It's a terribly vicious cycle.


Anyways, I am not here to drone on and on about my negative thoughts. I’m here to talk about what I do about them, because although those thoughts may never go away completely, I will not let them brood and control me.


what to do--both for those who struggle with a negative body image and for those who know people who do

NUMBER ONE MISTAKE IN REASSURING A FRIEND OF THEIR OWN BODY'S WORTH:
telling he/she they're super skinny.


To all who have told someone that they're super skinny in the hopes of helping them with their struggle: thank you for trying. It's really cute that you care. Don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong, you just didn't do much to help.


Why not, you ask?


Hahahaha, well...


3 big reasons (all based on personal opinion--please feel free to object):


1) I think that if a person is struggling with a negative body image, chances are, he/she won't really believe you if you tell them he/she is skinny.
2) That statement only makes them build their self-esteem off of the reassurance of others, which makes his/her's self-esteem super unstable. Having a good body image does not mean realizing that you have a skinny body, it means accepting your body the way it is.
3) the biggest one of them all: when you use 'you are skinny' as a form of reassurance, you are also enforcing the idea that skinny=good.


Hold up. Let me get this straight.


There is no such thing as a "good" body, other than one that is fit and allows you to live well. Being fit often entails being thinner, but that does not equate being skinny to having a "good" body.


BALLERINAS. THE SAME GOES FOR YOU.


It's true that we ballerinas face different standards for an "ideal" body type (notice the quotations) than most other people, because ballet is a visual art form, and the world has decided that having long, skinny, limbs and alien-like proportions are aesthetically pleasing. (I'm not even going to talk about those standards right now, let's just go with it for now.) HOWEVER, we must not prioritize aesthetics over health. What good is a stick-thin dancer who cannot dance because he/she is too weak?


If you ask me, we need to stop being so weight oriented, especially in the ballet world, and more health oriented. In a ballet environment especially, it is impossible to go one day in the studio without hearing a weight-related comment, whether it be "she's so skinny" or "I'm so fat." Do we really need to point out that "she's a little chubby" or whatever?


If we really want to help lessen the problem of a negative body image, we have to make the commenting of someone's weight as arbitrary and meaningless as commenting on the color of their eyes. Impossible, I know. But we could try.


Another thing I hear a lot is people complaining about their weight. Let's be clear: there is a difference between genuinely wanting to express your concerns about your weight and saying "OHMYGOSH I'M SO FAT" in the hopes that those around you will tell you how skinny you are. Even if you are complaining about your own weight, it can be hurtful to those around you; personally, when I hear other people complaining about their body, it makes me concerned about myself, especially when the person complaining seems perfectly healthy. That being said though, I do think that talking about the issues you face with your friends is an absolutely spectacular thing to do. I highly encourage it--I always feel so much better after having deep conversations with my friends about these issues, and consider myself extremely blessed to have these people in my life. Just remember, there is a difference between complaining in the hopes of the return of flattery and wanting to talk out a problem.


After all, ballerinas get enough messages about how skinny they have to be from the media, weight charts, everywhere. Do we really need to talk about it some more in the studio?

why I try not to wear skirts in ballet class

Many ballerinas, including myself, like to wear skirts in ballet class not only because they're beautiful, but because they cover up the hips and give the illusion of longer legs. Ballet skirts are pretty much transparent and they really don't cover much, but for some odd reason, they make a difference.


I would love to wear skirts every day in ballet class. I'd probably feel great about myself. (Okay, maybe not that great, but better.)


I force myself not to, though, at least not for ballet class. Occasionally, I allow myself the luxury in rehearsals. The thing is, I don't want to have to depend on some piece of fabric to feel good about myself. Moreover, I also don't want to wear a skirt because I feel like I if I do, I'd also subconsciously be reinforcing the idea that I have to cover something up. And even if I don't like the image of my own stomach/hips/butt in the mirror, I don't cover it up with a skirt because I want to fight the negative thoughts, get used to my own imperfect body, and accept the way it is.
Not to mention, skirts cover up the hips, and I want to prioritize focusing on the alignment of my hips rather than covering up the appearance of them.


wrapping up

This fight is a hard one. In fact, I don't think the struggle with a negative body image is one that can end like, "Yay, I'm happy about my body forever! I won't ever have these negative thoughts again!" I think the bad days will always be there, but that is no reason to give up. It is entirely possible to make the good days far more numerous than the bad days. It is also entirely possible to deal with the bad days in a healthy way.


I definitely plan to continue this series. Next time, I'm thinking of talking more so about the relationship between a ballerina and her food. So, so much to say, as always :P


For now, keep in mind: do not strive to eat less, but rather, healthier. (If you eat less, you may actually gain fat and slow down your metabolism, since your body thinks it's starving.)


Anyways, more coming... in the meantime, let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your opinion, negative/positive feedback, ideas, etc. etc. :)


mucho amor,
Lydia














1 comments

  1. hi!! I've been struggling with body image recently, too, and this really helped me a lot. thanks!! 💗💗💗

    ReplyDelete

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