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Body image and teacher’s words

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My 14 y.o. DD has been a dancer since she was 4 years old and, after doing many different forms of dance, has been doing ballet solely for the past 4 years and us currently in a pre-professional program where she (pre-COVID) dances 4 days/week.

She is talented and enjoys the art form although her body is not the “ideal” (she is about 5’5,  ______ pounds). She has always been “all in” with her dancing but I have noticed that (since her body has developed) she is holding back. She is constantly comparing herself to thinner girls and has voiced that she hates her body and would love to have a breast reduction.

Hearing your child speak so negatively of herself is really painful. The world is so hard on girls and their body images and I’m finding that ballet class is no different.

My child comes home and regularly tells me that her teacher always focuses on one girl in particular and tells her (out loud, in class) that she has such beautiful long legs and gorgeous feet. While it is true that this child is “Balanchine material” and should be encouraged, I find it very distasteful that a teacher is focusing on physical attributes rather than skill/ability-ESPECIALLY in front of impressionable pre-teens/teens. It has really left a bad taste in my DD’s mouth (and mine) and I’m finding that she is no longer enthused about dancing. I have offered to talk to the teacher but she says that I’m over-reacting and that “that’s the ballet world!”.

I’m at a loss. Is this something that is a typical experience for pre-professional programs? Do I dare say anything about this to the teacher? OR Do I find another studio? 

Any advice would be helpful.


Edited by dancemaven
Removed weight per BT4D Rules and Policies.

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I would find another studio.  This one is not conducive to your DD’s emotional health.  And no, it is not typical for a pre-professional program.  Yes, there are those like this one, but it does not have to be that way and there are plenty that are not.

Although it is true that at some point your DD will need to come to terms with her “dancing body”, it is not at age 14.  The teen years are just beginning and the body has a LOT of changes it will go through.  My DD’s body at age 14 was much different that her “dancing body” at age 19-23 when she was on the cusp of professional contract time.  By then, she knew her body, her preferences, her place in the dance world, and she was committed, accepted, and happy.  Your DD will get there, too.  But not if she stays at studio that talks to her the way this one is.  We moved DD from just such an environment because it was unhealthy and destructive for her.

The studio is not going to change, so just change studios.  Find a pre-professional program that is nurturing, understanding of teen years, body development, celebrates the dancer within, and encourages her to find her voice and her strength.

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I agree. As has been said in other threads here, go where you are celebrated. My 20-year-old does not look like she did when she was 13/14 and puberty was hitting hard. She'll never have a waif-like figure but she's strong and she plays to her strengths. Early teen years are hard enough as they stare at the mirror so often and compare themselves with other dancers. They don't need adults in authority giving them even more to obsess over. 

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Agree completely with dancemaven and dancingjet.

Take care and hang in there.


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