Whenever I mention Dancers Don’t Diet, I’m asked more often than not the reason why I don’t promote dieting in dancers.
When people ask me this question I can see this speech bubble popping up above their head like that in a cartoon: “but don’t dancers need to be thin to dance and so they’d have to lose weight, right?”
My answer is this:
I don’t promote dieting in dancers because I genuinely support their wellbeing in both during and after their career, as a dancer, an artist, and a human being.
Dancers need bodies that can move to express deep emotions and feelings; to create connectedness and community; to tell a story and to pass on that story.
Dancers are high achievers; perfectionistic; hard-working; higher on the emotional sensitivity; and are people-pleasers.
Theses are great traits to bring you success in life.
But they are also traits prone to eating disorders.
And eating disorders will strip away your lifelong years of training, talent, freedom, and dreams. Because your mind will be pre-occupied with food and eating, it will lose the power to concentrate, focus, or create. The body too will lose its stamina, muscle mass, strength and bone density, making you way more prone to injuries (which some will take years to recover).
If, instead of dieting, we can focus on the health and wellbeing of the dancer as a whole, we can:
- Nurture strong and resilient dancers, both physically and mentally.
- Foster self-efficacy and independence
- Prevent injuries and/or promote quicker recovery for existing injuries
- Create a better working environment for dancers in the long term because they will be healthier, stronger, and have less injuries that may take them completely or partially off their jobs
- Save a LOT of money – dieting programs and pills are expensive and they never teach you how to budget! Think how many pairs of pointe shoes or tickets you can buy or extra lessons you can attend by being smart here.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to support and nurture healthful dancers.
And dancers, be smart and say no to diets because what’s really going to help you accelerate and perform at your best is to eat enough and adequately.