A teenage dancer has made a film to raise awareness about the stereotypes she believes are associated with ‘being a dancer’.
Ellie Hawcutt, who has danced since she was two years old, wants to break down the stigma that dancers should be thin and instead embrace being strong and beautiful.
She hopes by doing this people will learn to celebrate bodies of all shapes and sizes within the dance industry.
Whilst studying for her GCSE’s, Ellie was cast as lead in a production and soon felt the pressure to ‘fit in’.
‘I had so much going on and I was surrounded by the dancer stereotypes that girls have to be thin in order to look good on stage,’ explained Ellie, from York.
‘I think I succumbed to the pressures and began changing the way I viewed food and the way I ate. I was still eating but not the way I should. I felt really guilty every time I ate.
‘I felt like everyone would be watching me and I would be centre of attention.’
The 16-year-old believed problems escalated when she began attending dance classes during her scholarship at a prestigious dance school.
Ellie said: ‘I was constantly the oldest in each group and because everyone was younger than me they were more underdeveloped and I saw myself as much bigger than them – I had breasts.
‘They were so different to me and it was because they were younger but I just didn’t understand that at the time and I couldn’t get my head around it.’
With vast opportunities coming her way, Ellie is grateful to Manor Church of England Academy, in York, for providing great support during a challenging time.
‘I had really good pastoral support at my secondary school,’ Ellie added. ‘I was talking to a woman and I was just crying - I knew I shouldn’t feel like this.
‘I didn’t know why I felt like that and I needed to find the route of the problem which was the stereotypes I had succumbed to but I know I shouldn’t have.’
Ellie believes the media has a part to play in building ‘unrealistic’ stereotypes of dancers and fears young people are vulnerable to what they watch or read online.
‘The media has definitely had an impact. In every magazine and newspaper there are always models in bikinis that have been photo shopped and young girls are being expose to this,’ explained Ellie.
‘It’s really sad because it’s not real and that’s not what a real person looks like and young people need to realise this.’
With support from Fixers, Ellie has produced a film to raise awareness about body image in dance and hopes people with learn to appreciate individuality.
‘I want to focus on influencing young people from the age of 10. At this age girls are beginning to realise that their bodies are changing and they’re going through puberty.
‘I hope that my resource will be shared in schools that have dance facilities but also dance schools that have young dancers, to show anyone can dance.’
This project was supported by The Tampon Tax Fund distributed by The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.