Do Ballet Lessons Equal Eating Disorders?

Having a five year old girl who is obsessed with ballet (Angelina Ballerina has a lot to answer for), I was interested to see a story on BBC Breakfast this morning about how the ballet world is trying to stamp out anorexia. At five years old you wouldn’t think the idea of being thin enough for ballet would be an issue, yet, in my daughter’s class I’ve heard a few of the mother’s already speculating on whether their daughters are too ‘big’ for ballet. It makes me sad and cross to hear because as a child I also did ballet classes. In my head it was for fun, so I was mortified when my own mother took me out of class at the age of 8, telling the teacher that I “obviously wasn’t built to be a dancer”. I also have two friends who did go on to be dancers and both have had anorexia which they say it was mainly due to the huge emphasis that was put on them both by ballet teachers, the ballet world and their parents to remain lean and stick thin. So it’s good to hear that the new artistic director of English National Ballet says she wants to stamp out anorexia. Tamara Rojo says dancers need to put on weight and that audiences want to see healthy looking women on stage. It’s true, as parents and women we all do, but when everyone in the media is becoming increasingly thinner compared to the dancers, and actresses of twenty year’s ago (compare Kate Winslet now, to Kate Winslet in the Titanic), I do wonder how easy it will be to change the mindset of young girls who are bombarded with images of thinness. I’m hoping that showing my own daughter that being healthy and strong is the way forward will help, but how do you help your children to have a healthy body image? Let me know.