problems in the arts
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The on-going problem plaguing the arts industry in our modern society is the need to be skinny. Effects of the on-going struggle to achieve this is apparent everywhere we look, there is so much pressure on our society to be perfect and this stress pushing youth to extreme and dangerous matters . Body image is defined as the way in which people see themselves in the mirror everyday: the values, judgments, and ideas that they attach to their appearance.
When young girls dream of what they want to be when they are older there mind wanders to star struck actress, appearing on the big screen and being hounded by paparazzi or standing on stage whilst a wave of people scream your name and making it big in Hollywood as the next big singer. However most little girls are attracted to the wonder of applauding crowds and bright lights whilst spinning gracefully across a stage see most little girls dream of one thing : to be a dancer , passing by the studio teetering on their tiptoes peering in on the congregation of tall , elegant figures in pink tutus flittering around the room just moving listening to the music and go and they watch in wonder as these beautiful creatures move so perfectly every move precise until they are almost levitating off the floor in an endless round of plies and curtseys , and then its decided I"m going to be a dancer.
But what happens behind the velveteen curtain, what is the real life of a ballerina?
The life of a ballerina consists of strenuous routines which require a dancer to push their body beyond ordinary limits. Ballet dancers, continuously feel pressures to maintain a specific body size. In the dancing world females are expected to be light and lift able, no one wants an overweight woman throwing herself around no, instead we want anorexic girls wearing leotards two sizes two big sweeping the floor while we bite our nails hoping they don"t break any bones.
From a young age ballerinas are encouraged to keep a healthy diet, and encouraged to do plenty of exercise to make sure they are able enough to take part in the day to day activities that come along with being a dancer. This is acceptable no one can argue of course we want to see healthy kids around but when an infant begins to count the calories its usually a bright red sign saying danger slow down. Dance teachers are in a sense a machine, in their youth were conformed into the ideal dancer disorders, breakdowns and pummelling pressure the lot. That when they see hopeful wannabes smiling up willing to act on their every demand well I guess they can"t help themselves. A lot of dancers say they feel judged by their teachers in various discreet ways: perhaps a comment in passing stating that "if it was me I wouldn"t eat prior to a lesson I wouldn"t want to be bloated "creates a chain reaction of healthy five year olds glancing at their flat stomachs in disgust and making a mental note that they have to starve themselves before their lessons six days out of the week. Or those judging sideways looks when stretching begin and you can feel them burning a hole in the back of your head as they inspect the non-existent fat which clings to your legs.
A quotation from a young dancer proves the distressing pressure placed upon dancers "Not only are the dancers weights recorded but many times are read aloud to the entire class." Dancers learn at an early age that rewards and punishments are based upon weight. If a dancer loses weight, she is praised and rewarded with a role in a ballet. If she does not, she is punished by not being cast at all. According to a research conducted by Benn and Walters, dancers studied were found to only consume 700 to 900 calories per day. Many of which were disappointingly consuming less than 700. Surveys conducted in the United States, China, Russia, and Western Europe found that female dancers" weights were 10 to 15 per cent below the ideal weight for their height.
It seems funny usually achievement is measured by goals, awards, hard work and practice rather than by an actual tape measure. We need to desperately turn this around before the dance industry becomes liable not only for injuries, and broken dreams but broken bones and dead bodies, because at the moment they are running their dancers into the ground. Rather than practicing their assemble they may be better of grabbing a shovel and burring their own graves. What kind of a life are we setting for our daughters and friends, neighbours?
The Italian dancer Maria Francesca Garritano had been sacked from Milan's prestigious La Scala. She claimed her training at La Scala's ballet school had pushed her and many of her fellow students into severe body dysmorphia and eating disorders; she argued that one in five ballerinas now suffer from anorexia, and suggested many are unable to get pregnant as a result. La Scala dismissed her for "damaging the image" of the company.
Back sometime in the 1980`s the Royal Ballet School Upper School Prospectus showed a photo of a boy and girl dancing together. They actually looked like brother and sister they were so alike. The pair of them were incredibly thin, especially their thighs. But you could tell they were both naturally that way, as they were both as thin as each other. What shocked me though, was that the School chose to use these two students to include in their Prospectus, as if that body type was somehow the norm for everyone, when clearly it wasn`t.
Dr. Hamilton said, is a large part of the problem of eating disorders, a problem that affects a large number of young ballerinas. Determined intervention might have helped avert the sudden death on June 30 of Heidi Guenther, no longer a student but a 22-year-old member of the Boston Ballet. The exact cause is not yet known. But Ms Guenther had eating problems. She had complained to her family in recent weeks of a racing, pounding heart, but she refused to see a doctor. Dance is a highly competitive, high-pressure and physically demanding profession. In classical ballet, there is popularly believed to be an ideal 'Balanchine' body type for women, with the jobs going to tall, slender women with long necks, long legs and short torsos. The problem of eating disorders has created a minor industry of nutritionists and therapists specializing in dancers' emotional and physical problems. Despite increasingly sophisticated methods, however, eating disorders in ballet remain extremely difficult to treat.
I believe the regime dancing industry is inducting is affecting the level of love and commitment of their dancers and rather are Turing them into lifeless drones , dancing is meant to set you free , listening to music and letting it flow through your body fill it with emotion and fierce passion . Dancing is a way to express you self to convey what you want to say what you mean. To dance with a smile on your face and be in the zone and feel like you"re flying, it"s the ability to create yourself set your passion on fire and develop into something beautiful. Dance is such an amazing ability to be able to move so gracefully with such force and meaning behind each step to be in your element to be something great and it"s so upsetting to see these apparent "role models" sucking the fire, love, and enjoyment right from their lips, so that little girl from before peaking in the window discovering her dream, don"t take it away before she even has a chance instead make a change. .
what do you think of this problem in the arts
The first thing I will address is anorexia; yes, stress and anxiety will be induced to the point of triggering anorexic and bulimic behaviour, but many sufferers of anorexia don't actually have more pressure to it than a non-anorexic person. Anorexia is a mental disorder, and saying it can be triggered only by women's portrayal in the media is like saying the Internet is the cause of the rise of ADHD. They're both neurological disorders that may be triggered by certain events or stimuli, but removing them from the environment doesn't mean it won't still be there. The answer is not a change in media, it is treatment of the root cause; brain chemistry flaws that need to be regulated, treated and monitored by health care professional.
Next, consider the different body types of performers in the media- bar the recent embrace of the fuller women pushing the 'big is beautiful' motif. We'll examine the following; ballerinas, adult entertainment workers, runway models, Olympic athletes and Hollywood stars. They all have different body types, and there is a solid explanation for each one.
Starting with the ballerina, the dancer has to be light in order to be moved and carried by dancers and equipment. Think of the physics involved behind it, the change in moment and torque needed to transition smoothly between the moves. The lighter the dancer is, the better conditioned their muscles are, the easier it'll be on them to perform. Another reason would be that in every ballet studio floor, there is a spring board underneath the floor, which enables them to jump that much higher than on normal ground. However, if you've played with a spring coil before, I'm sure you realize if you stretch or compress it too much, it will change its shape and cannot change back. This is the 'plastic range' of the material, and it has to account for not one, but SEVERAL dancers on the floor, all of whose weight will affect the effectivity of a springboard.
Adult entertainment workers don't have as big a problem with body weight, not just because being more volutptuous is marketable, but because a lot of their movements are focused around one pivot point, be it the client paying for their time and experience (I'll leave that to your imagination), or a fixed pole where the weight shifts from the dancer's center of mass to the pole. They don't need springy boards, they can use their body weight and momentum to propel themselves up into inverts and down into spins. The industry entails voluntary (hopefully) objectification of the employee, but it's the physics behind the dancers movement that provides them with the center of mass.
As for runway models, they're a certain body type with specific dimensions out of standardization. Basically, 1, the designer has to actually make the clothes themselves, so they need to be resourceful, and even frugal; it costs less money to have a thin and tall outfit matching the dimensions of the size of the cloth, then to have a short and wider outfit with odd bits of cloth leftover. You can imagine with the big budget being spent on the show and media exposure, they want to cut down costs in cloth production until they've ENSURED it's successful enough to be mass produced for bigger sizes worldwide.
Olympic athletes are proof that fitness, agility and grace may not necessarily have anything to do with being skinny. Depending on the sport in question, some athletes have different muscular workouts and dimensions than others; a dead-weight lifter will have a different physical shape from a sprinter, and yet more so from a diver. They're all still performers, they all still have rigorous physical requirements and training, and they're all under a lot of pressure. And yet, they don't all look the same, because it depends on what your body should be able to do.
The Hollywood star is, for the intent of this argument, portrayed as the OPPOSITE of most things I mentioned above. The appeal doesn't lie in their body size, it's how they are portrayed in the media; barely clad, smooth skin, big eyes, fun-loving expression alongside a statement of vulnerability (this actress tells all! Shocking new secrets! She strips bare and reveals herself to our interviewers!). In a demented way, this goes further than the objectification of women in the media; this portrayal of their vulnerability and innocence coupled with the former represents the na"vet" of the youth. its not a matter of physicality, or even sexuality; it's meant to disempower them by reverting them back into a child-like portrayal of innocence. They're revealed. They're naughty. They're appealing to your dominant nature to sell their image.
This is not just a matter of physical beauty; they also need to be seen as weak as those ballet dancers, as inherently objectifiable as adult entertainment workers, as naturally graceful, pouty and spoiled as those runway models, and on the same fitness and flexibility regime as the Olympic athletes.
It's not portraying women as skinny and beautiful, it never was. This was always about weakening them and making them vulnerable, and disregarding the work and practicalities behind all of the above to sell a particular image and idea. It's a perversion on more levels than just weight.
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