Julia Lottman

New York • USA

Story

Body image is something that every dancer deals with. Walking into a studio and having to look at yourself in tight clothing can be terrifying to some dancers.

I've never been one to have a "dancers body." I'm not skinny, I don't have long lean muscles, and I don't have a straight body. I have boobs, I have curves, I have fat. Since entering my current ballet studio this year, I have gotten even more self conscious. I look at myself in tights and a leotard and notice how my hips are wider than my waist. I see that my thighs touch. I see that my stomach isn't flat. The worst part is that I'm not the only one. To me, all of my friends look perfect, but they walk into the studio and see the same things that I do. Society and the dance world have impacted the way that girls as young as 11 see themselves.

When I started at this studio, my eating habits began to change. It was very subtle, but looking back, it was too drastic for no reason. I would have smaller meals, I would turn down treats I used to love, and I would only allow myself a piece of chocolate or other treat if I did a plank or crunches after. I am not overweight- I am very healthy. I love chocolate, and that's not going to change. I started to realize that my body was actually my temple about a month ago. I realized that one piece of chocolate won't affect me. I can still eat sweets, so long as it's in moderation. I dance 11 hours a week. I am active, I normally eat well. If I have a cheat day every now and then, I'll be okay. But I didn't always think I'd be okay. I'd cry because I hated the way I looked. I wanted to quit ballet so I wouldn't have to look at myself like that. Through the love I know my friends have for me, and knowing that I love dance, I stuck with it. I'm slowly learning to love my body. I know I'll never love every part of myself, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?