Textile, Fashion Merchandising and Design
Dance; Body Image
CAROLYN BOLLERMAN (Political Science, Gender and Women’s Studies)
Body Image and Dance: Achieving Perfection at Any Cost
Sponsor: Jessica Strübel (Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design)
Over sixty years ago George Balanchine, one of the most influential ballet choreographers of the 20th-century and co-founder of the New York City Ballet, set the standards for the ideal ballet body look. These standards include body-long limbs, long neck, flat chest, toned muscles, and a very thin pre-pubescent look. The “skinny dancer” in the 1960s and visible bone structure was not only expected, but viewed as the norm for professional dancers.
Despite the known health risks of extreme thinness, choreographers, teachers, and the institution of dance, as a whole, still perpetuate such damaging beauty ideals. The current study explored how dance, specifically participation in ballet, has impacted the body image of dancers and how the use of mirrors in the studio can may contribute to body dysmorphia. Furthermore, this study examined how gender identity may impact body image in ballet dancers. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected from a sample of dancers (18-30- year-old women) and netnographic observations were made on Tumblr. We examined participation in dance in relation to body satisfaction, body surveillance, and personal experiences in their respective dance classes. Our findings are consistent with preexisting scholarship that suggest a relationship between participation in dance and the promotion of negative body image.