Thank you for proving an outlet for those who struggle with similar issues! Your voice will be heard and will make a difference!
I’ll give a short (but likely long) synopsis of my story and hope someone might read it and choose to not listen to negative influences in their life.
I grew up in an amazing family. I had a wonderful childhood, well I have a wonderful life altogether. I was always taught to love myself and cherish the things about me that are different. I would succeed at doing this until my early 20’s.
I grew up dancing. There was plenty of opportunity for me to fall into the “weight issues” column. I was incredibly lucky in my dance environment to have a teacher who accepted different body types and worked with each student depending on their individual body needs. That said, there are always outside influences that come along and attempt to change how you see yourself. Deciding I loved danced enough to pursue it as a career, I went to a college with a great arts/dance program and received a BFA in dance performance. I was ecstatic to have an opportunity to make a career out of what I loved so much.
Throughout college, I was always pressured to keep track of me weight and go that extra mile to lose anything extra, but luckily, I was dancing so much this was not a problem. After graduating, I began teaching and decided that I really wanted to dance. On a whim, I decided to try out to be an NBA cheerleader. I made the team and thought this would be a fun way to integrate my love of dance with my love of sports. This year changed my life forever and I’m still dealing with body images today (although I’m aware of them and working hard to change them).
The second the team was announced, we were told (as a whole – which is ludicrous) that we needed to lose weight for a swim suit calendar we would be shooting in 3 weeks. I weighed 120 pounds and I am 5’7’’ (so, if you ask me, I looked great). Weeks past and I continued to lose weight. I got down to about 110 and felt sick, constantly hungry, and always tired. At this point we were having about 15 hours a week of practice, I was working full time, teaching dance 10 hours a week, working 1-3 games per week AND working out in my “free time”. Long story short, I became obsessed with my body weight, image, and overall appearance. I didn’t realize the tumble I was taking until nearly 2 years later when I looked back at my life and realized I had never questioned the way I looked until that defining year. I still (albeit much less often) think I look fat in certain clothes, dress much more conservatively to hide any flaws, and over-obsess about what I eat.
All-in-all it’s ridiculous. Why shouldn’t I have the same, healthy body image I had until I was 23? Why should one person/group be able to impact my life so much? I’m working to love everything about me and feel comfortable in my own skin no matter what I wear or do. It’s working thus far, but will always be a challenge because of this one year in my life.
I’m currently in the process of opening my own dance studio and can’t wait to add nothing but positivity to young dancer’s lives.