Lose the Leotard

A+dancer+shows+off+her+technique+while+at+the+barre.

A dancer shows off her technique while at the barre.

Picture this: a young teenager at the barre in her Ballet class. While she is practicing her pilé she notices how she is not as skinny as the other girls in her dance class. She works hard to lose all her body, just to look skinny while she is wearing her leotard, no one notices that all her hard work is rooted in the wrong idea. However, that is not important, the only thing that matters is that she blends in with everyone else. Dancers themselves, along with instructors have found that wearing these clothes that are made to hug the body tight make it easier for someone to compare what they do not have.

 

Whenever a little girl begins to take classes at a studio, she is more than likely requested to wear a leotard. this makes sense; by wearing this tight piece of clothing the instructor can decipher her movements better. However, once that little girl’s body begins to develop and her weight increases while others stay below 100 pounds it is likely she will compare herself to the others. Wearing a leotard accentuates every curve on a body, and what is considered to be beautiful and curvy in the real world is ugly in the dance world. 

Before ordering a costume, dance instructors follow strict guidelines when it is time to measure their dancers, which quite literally forces the girls to be aware of their larger or smaller size. It is easy to want to suck in whenever they begin measuring the stomach area, just to look the same as everyone else in the class. 

On any occasion that a dancer goes to purchase a new leotard, or buy new tights for class, often the model for these advertisements is a size zero. Well-known dance store and studio Kix, recognizes this struggle as well, agreeing that advertising this type of body build worsens the body image of the person looking at the ad.

Retired professional dancer Tiffany Michelle Brown proves that even the professionals struggle. Thinking that she had to be 115 pounds, even though someone at her height and with her level of activity should be at least 130 pounds,she became obsessed with weighing herself and over exercising, and her suicidal thoughts began soon after. Brown was captivated by seeing other dancers with their perfect figure; it was easy to compare herself. She is a prime example of how easy the cycle of self loathing can begin. 

Wearing leotards is one of the first steps to causing the mental health of a dancer to decline. This simple class uniform is just how it looks, an easy way to look clean and polished. Just wearing plain black can turn even the sloppiest of dancers into looking as though they know what they are doing during one of their classes. First, it starts with being compared to the others, then once those thoughts are already circulating, comparison turns into a dark obsession. 

Since the invention of the leotard in 1886, it has brought upon  thousands of years of tradition, most dancers are not willing to make the change. Leotards make it easier to watch how their bodies move, it is as simple as that. However, when scrutinized, it is so much more. It is girls, young and old, starving and overworking themselves. It is dancers beginning to normalize their suicidal thoughts. It is as easy wanting to become someone else that can turn into being diagnosed with depression, or anorexia.  As a result of a female dancer having to wear a leotard, her self esteem is bound to worsen.Something as simple as a piece of clothing that is made to be too tight can lead to something much worse.