Eating Disorders and Dance

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EATING DISORDERS AND DANCE

Observation Paper on

Eating Disorders and Dance

On June 14, 2006 an observation of a Weber County School District drill team took place during their summer training session. The team consisted of 24 adolescent, high school girls; each girl differed from the next by way of hair color, skin color, height and weight along with other character traits. When the group first walked into the dance room for their morning training session they all had on the same outfits. As a group, according to the K. Lamar, they are required to wear body forming dance wear in an attempt to unify the team by not allowing any of the girls to standout from other team members and to make sure their body line is correct (personal communication, June 14, 2007). From first glance it seemed that the team was unified as a whole but during closer observation one thing was drastically different in some of the girls. A fair majority of the girls looked as if they were at a healthy weight for a particular height; however there was a few that did look severely underweight. The girls that appeared underweight seemed to form a group of their own within the drill team and were often singled out by other team members as being too ‘skinny' or unhealthy. Additionally, the adolescent girls that were underweight were made fun of and talked about by other members of the team, thus leading them to form their own clique within the drill team. The girls that formed their own clique never confronted the other members of the team but rather kept to themselves. All of these observations and its findings could exhibit signs of eating disorders which is leading to group separation and self isolation within the drill team. Eating Disorders: Eating disorders are one of the key health issues facing young women today. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health currently 1-4% of all young women in the United States are affected by eating disorders with anorexia nervosa ranking as the third most common chronic illness among adolescent females in the United States (Eating Disorders, 2006). The two most common eating disorders for weight loss are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia Nervosa causes an overwhelming fear of being overweight and a drive to be thin, leading to a restriction of calories that can lead to being underweight where as bulimia nervosa is a loss of control and binge eating, followed by purging behaviors (Eating Disorders, 2003). Some of the factors that put adolescents at risk for eating disorders is participating in certain competitive activities, especially dance (Eating Disorders, 2003). Eating Disorders and Dance: The beginning of the observation started with the girls warming up and making sure they were all in the same outfits. These outfits were body forming in order for the advisor to see the movement and line of the girl's bodies. In addition the required outfits reveled that some were severely underweight and unhealthy looking. These underweight girls appeared to have very little body fat with their bones (ribs and hips) protruding from under their skin, which could suggest an eating disorder. K. Lamar stated that she noticed a few of the girls losing some weight after joining the drill team and has met with them personally to discuss their weight loss (personal communication, June 14, 2006). Considering that the group adolescents are in high school they are within the age group (fourteen or fifteen) when eating disorders commonly develop. Also, eating disorders are at a high rate within the dance world because of its competitive nature and the type of body one must have in order to be successful (The Incidence of Anorexia in ballet dancers, n.d.). Dancing has a long history starting with the origin of the dancers' body in the eighteenth century. The female dancer's physique was drastically different than her predecessors; she...
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