Mental Health

A Post on Body Image

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A personal anecdote on body image, ballet, sport and anorexia that was original posted on the C&V instagram.

Something happened to me last week – I was at gymnastics, feeling particularly tired and nibbling at chocolate to keep my energy and focus up. My coach looked over and said half-jokingly, ‘stop eating! When I first came to the gym, you were so skinny! And now, because of chocolate…’ I was too taken aback to do anything but laugh and say that I needed it for energy.

Mostly though, as someone who has battled an eating disorder, who’d learnt from doing gymnastics and ballet how important it was to nourish myself, I felt like crying. But because I am a grown woman, I pulled him aside and explained to him very nicely that I was recovering from anorexia when he first started working here, that I had needed to gain weight for my health and that his comments did not make me feel good. ‘That’s why you were so skinny? I see. I understand.’ He said, and then – ‘sorry.

Then I went home, and cried. A lot. I think dancers can relate when I say there was a part of myself that said ‘you’re not skinny because you’re weak-minded and ill-disciplined!’ (and that’s what anorexia is about – not an aspiration to thinness, but a fear that yourself and your efforts aren’t good enough). I wondered what was wrong with me, that someone would say something like that to me. I felt ashamed for letting one comment affect me so much – it’s embarrassing talking about it now! I thought about how much worse it must be for all the dancers I knew and didn’t know to have their bodies critiqued by well-meaning coaches or severe artistic directors and struggle with body image issues. People who, unlike me, may not feel they can speak up.

But then, in spite of how crappy I felt, I realised that I simply don’t think it’s worth being weak, tired and hungry anymore. That not being a slave to the false god of perfectionism doesn’t mean I don’t work hard or look after myself. People will always have their opinions about what you should and shouldn’t be. But the fact is that life is a lot better when you have energy to do the things you like, the strength to propel yourself up in the air and flip upside down, and the wisdom to know that chocolate is magical and undeniable.

(And yes, that’s me, flipping upside down and basically trying not to die!)

-Min
www.cloudandvictory.com

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Adultballerina
    April 5, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Min,

    I’ve been a longtime fan of your Cloud and Victory line, having just discovered your story and battle with anorexia. I can unfortunately relate to your experience as well.

    I’m sorry your teacher was rude to you. I wish I could explain why teachers and just people in general feel a need to comment while someone is eating. Maybe they’re secretly insecure themselves? Who knows. But it angers me because that person has no idea that their words stick in someones’ mind and can really affect them. Even the strongest person.

    I applaud you for speaking up! Something I would never have the courage to do. Hopefully next time (hopefully there isn’t a next time) I too will gather up the courage to say something. However hurtful words have always given me the strength to push myself even more and go above and beyond in everything I do, especially ballet. So I guess we can thank those that have hurt us for our success!

    You look great flipping! Very brave 🙂 I love watching gymnastics, but I’m too chicken to attempt anything more than a round off. Darn flimsy arms…

    xoxo

    Love everything you’re doing here!

    • Reply
      Min
      May 20, 2016 at 7:00 am

      Hi Adult Ballerina!

      Sorry for the late comment! Thank you for your kind words. Yes, my coach has his issues like everyone else – we’ve had our frustrations with each other for sure. But I generally have a good time doing gymnastics and try to treat it as a learning experience to build my confidence and be secure in myself; which is part of the reason why I do it! It’s definitely an ongoing process. I too, am very very VERY chicken, but I work hard – I just have to trust myself that I can do it and speak up when I don’t think something is helpful to my training; somethings which have been very antithetical to my life growing up. Definitely easier said than done!

      You should try a gymnastics class sometime, it’s really fun. 🙂

      Thank you again, and keep in touch! <3
      -Min

  • Reply
    Mary
    May 31, 2016 at 2:26 am

    I know this is super late, but I just want to give you a big hug~ There is no need to feel embarrassed, I too cry when people say rude things that hit too close to home regarding stuff I struggle with. Take care, hun. *hugs*

  • Reply
    Alaine
    January 15, 2017 at 4:34 am

    Min, sad to read this post! I’ve always battled with weight since I was a preteen. From my family to my dance teachers to well meaning friends to feeling completely inadequate and insecure at auditions when I have to wear a leotard. And I still struggle today. My body has yo-yo’ed in weight so much that I have a closets and drawers filled with clothes to accommodate the fluctuations of going up and down the scale. Nowadays, I try to shut the noise. But it’s a constant battle. I exercise for health, I dance for me and to inspire others to do the same, but there are days when one is weak and the noise others make gets to you.

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