“Mama, you won’t believe this,” Rosie says as she gets in the car. “Kaitlyn was cast as a back-up in the Nutcracker because she doesn’t have the perfect ballerina body.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I said. “Nobody does.”
“I know, right? ” Rosie says and she continues on telling me about her day, but I can’t help but be distracted. Perfect ballerina body? What kind of message are they sending these kids?
At first glance, my Rosie appears to have the perfect look. She carries herself like a ballerina. She is slim, has a long neck, graceful arms and legs for days, but she’ll be the first one to point out that even her body’s not right for ballet. Here’s the sad thing. Rosie can tell you everything about her body that’s wrong. Her elbows are double jointed. Her knees bend and actually hyper-extend. Since she’s 5’5″ at 13 and still growing, she may be too tall to be a principal dancer. And, then there are her breasts. Lovely in real life, they may be too big to be a ballerina. (And, guess what? If I didn’t tell you all of that, you’d see her on a stage and think, “what a gorgeous ballerina.”)
How do I know all of this? Rosie pointed out her flaws to me one-by-one in great detail. They’ve obviously been pointed out to her before. Want the good news? She doesn’t care.
“Mama,” Rosie says. “If you had to have the perfect body to dance, there’d be no one dancing.”
“You are totally right,’ I say and then remind her that the most talented, hard-working girl at our studio has Scoliosis. Far from perfect but she’s absolutely amazing and flexible as hell.
“Hey Rosie, you know that Under Armor commercial? The one with Misty Copeland? She doesn’t have the perfect ballerina body either. That’s the point”
Here’s the cool thing. My daughter gets that she doesn’t have to have the perfect body to dance and she loves that Misty Copeland doesn’t either. But there are lots of other girls that hear that they’re not perfect every single day and it’s not good for their self-esteem. Shame on the dance studio that points out a dancer’s physical flaws. The majority of these kids dance because they love it and if they work hard and get lucky some of them do have a shot to dance professionally or work in the business but honestly, many don’t. We need to stress positive body image not perfection.
As for that other studio, we left over a year ago. Rosie decided she no longer wanted to be a ballerina and wanted to pursue other forms of dance. Part of the reason? Because she doesn’t have the perfect ballerina body. The other? She needed to be in an environment that stressed the positives all the time instead of the negatives. We found our home and every time I see her on stage, all I can think is…perfection.
Why do we dance? Read our top 10 reasons here.