Acknowledging toxic diet culture in the dance world

I am not, in any way, shape or form, a dancer. I’m the furthest thing from it, really, with the irony of the situation being that my mom was a ballerina in her younger days and she tried to encourage both my sister and me to delve into it.

To put things into perspective, my sister ended up pursuing horseback riding, and I, the game of rugby. If I even attempted to perform ballet I’d probably moreso resemble a rhinoceros as opposed to a human because I am anything but graceful.

I have family members who became involved with dance from a young age, and I know someone who is actually pursuing dance as their professional career. I was chatting with them recently about how things are going for them, and we ended up exploring the topic of toxic diet culture in the dance world, and if I had to guess, I imagine this toxicity exists in all genres of dance.

While chatting with this person, I was rather taken aback when I learned from them just how prevalent toxic diet culture still continues to be in the realm of dance, considering the day and age we are in. I was sincerely hoping the occurrence of perpetuating negative thoughts about weight, body image and physical appearance in the world of dance had at least somewhat dissipated, or improved, in time, but based on the conversation I had with this person, I’ve been thinking wistfully.

Dance is a unisex sport, however, if I had to guess, and based on my own observations, there tends to be more women involved with dance than men, meaning it is mainly women at the receiving end of toxic diet culture. Women are already more prone and susceptible to encountering harmful messages and ideologies pertaining to food and diet than men, in a general sense, so they’re getting an even more severe dose of it if they’re involved in dance.

Toxic diet culture in dance needs to change, and further, it needs to end.

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