The body is a channel – an instrument – through which you express yourself. This is especially true when you are a dancer. The body conveys your message during a performance and allows you to test your limits.

As a member of Chapkis Family Dance, which performed on season 10 of “America’s Got Talent,” I have heard many stories of dancers going to extreme lengths solely to achieve the “perfect” dancer body, often with negative consequences. For this reason, it’s no surprise that a dancer’s body is often criticized.

So how does being a dancer affect personal body image?

Women are often held under a spotlight in the media. They are expected to look or act a certain way. It was the same for dancers; they all looked the same to fit the bill of the media. I was not reassured and questioned whether I would be able to have a successful dancing career with my body shape. Why didn’t I see a representation of all types of dancer bodies on TV? I began to feel as if I would never be successful in this industry.

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After coming to that conclusion, I began to look in the mirror and criticize every little detail of my body that I felt wasn’t “good enough.” Was I not hitting a move as strongly as I needed because my arms were too flabby? Did I not have enough stamina to finish a four-minute routine because I weighed too much?

Instead of giving up once I had decided that my body was not “good enough” to dance, I began to take the negative image I had developed about my body and used it to strive for what I wanted. I turned mental criticism into physical work. Instead of being envious of another dancer’s “better” body, I asked myself, “How could I get to where she is?”

No two bodies are the same, whether you are a dancer, a doctor or a decorator. Instead of accepting my negative comparisons, I learned to embrace them and my body. Confidence is key and being a confident dancer will pay off.

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