Help! I’m a teenager and my body is changing. I’ve gained weight and my dance teacher notices. What should I do?
A healthy body weight supports the physical demands of dance while balancing the metabolic demands of growth. Dancer’s often struggle to build body confidence due to antiquated standards of a preconceived “dancer’s body.” This creates a vulnerable environment to the development of restrictive eating habits. What stems from good intentions to improve performance often results in dangerously unsustainable dieting measures. Food transforms from a once beloved experience to an obstacle of avoidance.
Defining a healthy body weight is challenging in a culture that emphasizes leanness and often promotes unhealthy dieting habits. This is especially true for a young dancer undergoing puberty. Eating disorders often develop around the time a young dancer undergoes a growth spurt.
If you’re 19-years-old or younger, and you’re worried about weight gain, understand that it’s healthy for a pre-teen or teen to gain weight. Your body is undergoing a great deal of hormonal changes; it’s critical to allow it to do so!
Dancers balance art with athleticism. But to acieve body acceptance can feel overwhelming in a culture that emphasizes thinness. Instead, dancers are encouraged to utilize tools like body neutrality, body image resilience, and body appreciation. As a dancer, your capabilities will blossom only when you access body confidence.
6 Tips to Help Dancers Build Body Confidence
- Redefine Happiness– Rather than relying on a scale, measure everyday happiness through experiences. Grab coffee with a friend, read a book, or write a blog post.
- Abandon the Scale– Scientifically, this number is a misrepresentation of you and your body. Don’t let this number dictate your lifestyle.
- Give Purpose to Food– Focus on the types of foods that you’re eating. Do you feel energized? Make room for any and all foods that you love. Consider online resources to build a meal plan that best suits your goals.
- Avoid Comparisons– Stop comparing yourself to a peer. We are separate beings who cannot be held to the same standards.
- Utilize helpful tools– Body neutrality, body image resilience, and body appreciation are 3 helpful tools to consider at the individual level. Mindful practices like yoga help dancers gain awareness of their bodies and their many complexities. But understand that these tools should not derail us from challenging implicit weight bias and systemic oppression of larger bodies.
- Ask For Help– Join Rachel’s free 5 Days To Body Confidence challenge to learn basic tools for body acceptance. Helpful articles are also available to build a supportive body image.