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A Dancer's Reflection on Body Image in Today's Society

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Through my involvement in the dance community, I have experienced some important issues pertaining to the rights and self image of women in our society. I think in general, self image is one of the greatest issues that girls face throughout their youth. I started dancing in fourth grade, and have continued up to now, and dance as my elective in school. Dance is an activity that most girls do from a young age, and one of the most commonly practiced style is ballet. Having attended some ballet classes and having friends who are extremely dedicated to this style, I have witnessed some extreme and inhumane hurdles that ballet sets for the dancers. A key issue is body image. Through their dance career, girls are frequently asked to bend their bodies in abnormal ways to make their movements look elegant. Often in interviews with professional ballet dancers you hear of arthritis. This is because of the unnatural and deforming position of the feet in pointe shoes. Another important image issue can be seen at dance recitals, regarding makeup and costumes. I have seen young girls, no older than ten, wearing excessive makeup, false eyelashes, and squeezing into leotards and tutus. These are standards of beauty that our society has implanted in the minds of girls from a young age. As they progress through their dance years, costumes get more scandalous and the make up intensifies. Make up becomes a daily routine both in dance shows and every day at school. This is how girls believe they are beautiful in our society, and this phenomenon comes from our media. Girls as young as ten have instagram accounts and read magazines where they see women wearing a lot of make up, for example the Kardashians. These are role models and images of what they think they should look like and grow up to become. They are influenced by their society to look fake and photoshopped to appear beautiful. I believe that we should work towards teaching girls to accept who they are and work towards more important goals. By fostering the goals of leadership, women can learn to voice their opinions. We need to help foster the values of increasing women’s self esteem and provide strong role models for the young women of Sonoma County. We need women in positions of power, leadership from women of all ages, and a society where gender does not affect the opportunities that one may have.

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