Society places pressure on all of us to look and act in certain culturally acceptable ways. Body image is the way someone thinks, feels and behaves in relation to their body. Some children are worried about their ability to look “good enough” and be accepted by others. This can result in some trying food restriction and exercise techniques to change their bodies. Usually, girls want to be thinner and boys more muscular, and in dance the focus can be on perceived “body flaws” such as having bow legs.
Some research has shown that participating in dance is associated with having more concerns about weight in girls as young as five years old. On the other hand, research has also shown that body image and self-esteem can be improved through dance by increasing people’s understanding and mental representation of their body through movement as well as feeling connected to others.
What might be some challenges in the dance class?
Children and young people with developmental challenges may be at an enhanced risk of developing a negative body image.
Dance teachers and educators can play a powerful role in providing positive messages around body image for dance students.
Use time away from the mirror at the end of each class to practice the steps/routine they’ve just learnt. This may also help students prepare for the end of year performance where there are no mirrors.