This article discusses why dancers have such a high incidence of this disease.  I found this to be very interesting, especially since I was a dancer for most of my life.  I have seen this with dancers and it’s a very tough industry to be in so I figured that I would share this with all of you and see what your thoughts are regarding dancers and it’s relation to anorexia.  

     A ballet dancer is very aware of what her body looks like. At each practice she attends she wears skin-tight clothes and dances strenuously in front of large mirrors. A dancer has to look at herself for many hours in a day and this can cause a realization in the dancer. The general public may look in the mirror for a few minutes a day, hardly aware of what they really look like, but a dancer has no choice but to stand in front of a mirror and compare herself with others in the room. Seeing others thinner than she, could prompt a dancer to lose a few pounds to look as small as the other dancers in the room. As each one does this the room of dancers becomes very small. Anorexia seems like the best way to become the smallest dancer in the class.
     Another reason dancers would want to be small is that they have to jump high, spin fast and balance on their toes for extended periods of time. If a dancer weighs much or her weight changes frequently these steps are difficult to execute. A dancer has to know her body weight and be able to balance with no exterior problems. “Extra weight changes the balance of the body. It takes more strength to get up in the air, more time to do the move, and it’s harder to land.” (Chiu, 1996) A dancer also has to be conscious that a man has to be able to carry her for extended lifts and holds. Knowing she can dance better with a smaller weight convinces a dancer that she must stay thin at all costs.
     A dancer is usually seeking perfection in the steps that she executes. If she does not she will never reach a professionals level. Because a dancer is a perfectionist, she has to be flawless and better than her peers. A young anorexic dancer, when interviewed stated that, “she had something that other people wanted. They wanted to look like her and it was a sense of power, control and accomplishment that she could be like that.” (Dyson, 1995) This also gives the dancer a feeling that she has an edge over the other dancers and sometimes this edge is important.
     The ultimate goal for a dancer is to become a professional. The truth is as stated by a dancer, “In the real world people who are not thin do not get jobs.” (Emily Martin, personal communications, December, 1995) In the dancing world this is true. All dancers know that to get into a dance company of choice they have to look like the other girls in the ballet world so that when they get on stage they all look the same. The dancers know this and before applying for a dance company make sure that their bodies conform to the ideals of the dance company. The edge (being smaller than all other) that is gained through anorexia may be what gets them into the dance company. Those girls that do not have the figures have to find something else to do with their lives. For some this can be too much and that will drive them to anorexia to get into the company the next audition.
     Dancers are usually from a moderately high socio-economic background. As discussed previously, the children from the high socio-economic background have a higher incidence of getting anorexia than any other group. With the pressures of their family life and of dancing these girls are at a higher risk than any other group in society (of getting anorexia).
     The primary reason that a dancer will develop anorexia is traditionally a ballet dancers are slender. When it is known throughout the world that the best dancers in the world are thin and only the thin ballet dancers get jobs, it is easy for a dancer at a young age to think that anorexia is the only way for them to become and stay thin. To a dancer the pressure to be thin is very great. Before anyone looks at the way they dance or the way they move, the way they look is the first thing noticed. “An ideal has been set in place in the dance community which reflects the general publics desire to see thin women on stage.” (Dyson, 1995) (Here is the link you can refer to regarding this information)