I do not know if I am the only one who hears this comment from men as a flirtation. I know it is a bit of joke. As with many dancers, my body is my business card. The way it looks, the way it feels, the way it moves. As such, it is something that I actually do have to take care of – all flirting aside.
Anyone who spends as much time in front of a mirror analyzing their body – it’s technique, esthetics, projection, and presentation – is bound to start noticing their physical flaws. Maybe it is cellulite, a little pouch of fat, or less than perfect proportions. Unfortunately, because we do look at ourselves with intensity when training, mental blocks about our body happen. Add on fatigue, a failed relationship, or an uncertainty of an audition, and those flaws can play tricks with our brains. “Maybe if my body was more perfect, my life would be more perfect.” Really?
I took me 20 years to get over this and to realize my life and my body will never be perfect. And seriously, do I want it to be? Perfection is boring! The imperfection of my life is what makes me interesting. I hear friends complaining that their friends have such perfect lives. Do you really think their lives are that perfect? Yes, they have that Louis Vuitton purse, that 2 carat engagement ring on their finger, that foreign sports car. Do you not think they look at your life with envy as well? You are living your dreams, putting yourself out there like they never will while they stay in their bubble of what society views as perfection. Seriously boring! I have never wanted that.
Do I still have my bad days where the esthetics of my body bug me? For sure, I still have to try to overcome this everyday. It is difficult to be in an esthetic profession. I think most dancers have gone through a period of obsession with their flaws and likely some sort of eating disorder or emotional disorder went along with it. Everything can start to revolve around this body image. “That director didn’t like me because I was too fat. I would have got that partner if my hair was more beautiful. I would be more successful if my face was more perfect”. Why do we do this to ourselves?
It can be so difficult to get out of this thinking especially in the earlier years of a dancer’s career. During this period we are young and more sensitive to every success and failure. We are spending much time in a studio working on our technique with coaches, choreographers, and teachers. In those earlier years we are getting an abundance of feedback, often heard as criticism, which is crucial to our success. It is not always seen that way and can start to make us doubt our abilities and the essence of ourself.
How do you get out of your head, stop criticizing your image, and just be in that sexy body and dance? Sometimes it takes a break – going out and dancing for fun, spending time with friends, flirting with beautiful people. Sometimes it is closing the curtains on the mirrors in a studio and just enjoying being in the moment, feeling your body moving how gloriously it can. A little kindness to yourself on a bad day will pay huge dividends in the end. Your ability to dance has much to do with your ability, more so than your body’s esthetics. Try to love what your body can do, rather than what it looks like. Your mental attitude towards your body will always be a work in progress, so invest in loving it. You deserve it!