I am writing this issue about a topic we have all struggled with. How do we talk about size? My title refers to the three letter “F” word, “Fat.” This is a challenging topic because most of us (or perhaps all of us) feel unsure about our size at times. If we are unsure about our own bodies, how do we even begin talking about this issue with someone else?
When I think about bodies, I think about health. A healthy body is a balanced body. We need to take in enough fuel and nutrition to get through the day, but not so much that we begin to feel tired and slow. Likewise, we need enough exercise and activity to keep our bodies strong, but not so much that our bodies start getting injured and breaking down.
Nutrition is about balance and performance. Your body needs fuel to make it through the day, and particularly through dance classes and dance rehearsals. Most dancers need to refuel multiple times through the day to keep up with the demands of dancing. The amount of fuel your body needs changes as your dancing schedule fluctuates. For example, you may need to add more healthy snacks during a show week or over an intense summer camp. If your body does not have adequate fuel, it cannot keep up with your dancing.
Likewise, keeping up with your fitness is important in order to keep up in dance class. This is the “F” word I prefer when talking about bodies. Like most things in life, fitness is about balance, which is different for every dancer. Most dancers need to do some sort of cross training, but it is also important not to overdo. Rest and recovery are an important part of any activity. If your fitness is not balanced with recovery, you may be at for risk overuse injuries.
Sometimes dance can be seen as focusing on the external lines or images of our art. While dance is beautiful, it is the internal beauty that matters, not only the external picture. We connect most deeply with dancers who dance from their hearts, not just their muscles. Your body is your tool to express your soul. So you have to tune and tone your body, but, in the end, it is your soul that will ignite the audience.
Choose your words! Words can be very hurtful, whether they are on social media, or said behind someone’s back. Often times, we don’t even think about our words and a simple comment can be taken the wrong way. Most people feel unsure about their size at some point (or many points!), no matter what size they are. Dance teachers and parents should also be careful about their words and avoid comments about dieting, or “feeling fat.”
Finally, ask for help. If you are being teased about your size or weight, let that person know your feelings are hurt. Then, talk to someone you trust about your concerns. If you are concerned about an eating disorder in yourself, or someone else, The Alliance for Eating Disorders is a great resource and is a good place to start.
by: Dr. Kathleen L. Davenport, M.D.