Photos: Challenging body image

Zoe Henrot and Jarod Boltjes
From Zoe Henrot: "Three Words: Long. Lean. Beautiful. Growing up in a ballet school, these were the three words I used to describe the physique of a professional ballerina. While standing at the barre in ballet class everyday I would make a checklist for myself as I observed my own body in the mirror: make thighs smaller, waist thinner, and legs longer. I thought that if these changes were made in my own body, then I would maybe have a chance at becoming a professional ballerina like the ones I saw in all of the movies and magazines. As I grew into my body and my dance career, I came to realize that my checklist was quite unattainable within my anatomy. At first I pushed away this realization, insisting that if I just changed this or that in my exercise routine that my body would become long, lean, and beautiful. I then began to understand that the ways in which my body deviated from the qualities I had prescribed to 'the ballerina' in fact made my dancing unique. My strong legs made my jumps powerful and my ability to move swiftly fluid. Furthermore, I began to notice different qualities in every ballerina. These differences are what make watching and performing dance infinitely interesting. If you asked me today what three words describe a ballerina, I would only be able to tell you one: beautiful."
Courtesy Caroline Yang

The St. Paul City Ballet has partnered with The Emily Project for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week with a social media and photography project, "Take Back the Tutu."

With each photo, the dancer writes about their own struggle with how they feel about their body.

Story: Dancers press for broader public look at eating disorders, body image

They describe the project on Facebook this way: "To 'Take Back the Tutu' is to be empowered to take ownership of our art and throw away the idea that we have to look a certain way to wear the tutu. Our journeys are different and what we each chose to share is as unique as we are. Please enjoy our reflections; we hope they inspire you to take back your own tutu!"

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