Murphy, Sara E.
Aesthetic; Sport; Suicide; Men
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All experiences are unique to every person because each person perceives their surroundings individually. People living with suicidality struggle with the consistent pain which affects their cognition and perception. Pain directly influences how they perceive their experiences and their surroundings. Simultaneously, a person suffering from suicidality must face the stigmas society associates with mental illnesses. Suicide and related mental health concerns are frequently stigmatized and discourage those experiencing it from discussing the pain they feel. They are limited in receiving help as the pain is internalized. Through a creative fiction, first-person narrative account, this project investigates the pressures associated with males in aesthetic sport, such as gymnastics or dance, which complicate suicidality.
Suicidality is a pre-existing condition within the body and the pain associated with it may be triggered by internal and external pressures. Male dancers are placed within environments which harbor risk for traumatic events that can trigger such pain. As a male dancer, there is a specific aesthetic physique idealized by dancing companies. A male ballet dancer is expected to be tall, lean, and muscular but not too tall, too lean, or too muscular. He has a small window of what is acceptable for his body's physical appearance which contradicts the body type formed from his physical expectations. He is expected to continually dance and perform jumps, leaps, turns, and lifts without hesitation or exhaustion. However, it becomes a constant conflict between having a body physically able to complete such a task while being in the window of the ideal body type.
A man becomes entrapped by a constant pressure for the need to “fix” his body. Pressures from instructors, competitors and peers all play a role in consuming a man under such stresses.Meanwhile, pressures from a family become complicated by having a male participate in a sport considered highly feminine. As such pressures are internalized; pressures of the self become increasingly dangerous for the suicidal mind.
The narrative demonstrates the influential power suicidal pain can have on men. Concurrently, the piece portrays how external pressures and gendered expectations may affect a male individual in such a high-stress environment. The first-person narrative provides insight for looking at and experiencing the dance world as a suicidal male may experience it. Despite the advancements made in understanding suicide, the topic is still considered taboo. Misconceptions of the suicidal mind continue to fuel society in stigmatizing the uncontrollable existence of such a mental illness. This text provides a gateway for openly discussing suicide and the intersectional issues individuals may experience with their illness. As more people discuss these issues, they may become educated, more understanding, and reduce the stigma surrounding the topic.