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Body Image in the arts

Posted on: 20th November, 2017

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds Young Associate Emma Croft

By Emma Croft,
Young Associate.

Body image is a very personal matter, however in the industry of performing arts body image is one of the most spoken about topics. Both male and female performers are some of the most looked up to people in many ways and image is one of the aspects most admired by us, the public. I cannot imagine the pressure the men and women on posters are under to reach the unrealistic expectation of what ‘perfect’ is.

Currently around 1.6 million people are either suffering from an eating disorder, or have some insecurity towards their reflection and the statistics are only going to rise if we do not alter the way we think of ‘perfection’.

Women have been given many mixed signals of what the ‘perfect’ woman looks like. Magazines aren’t helping this either, one moment you could be looking at a recipe for the most glorious double chocolate cake, the next you’re looking at an Instagram model alongside a ‘how to be like her’ type article. It seems that we are being told to be a size zero whilst being healthy and having the hour-glass figure and being happy all at the same time.

I was shocked to see that recently a dancer had gone to an audition and was dismissed, not because of her talent, but because they thought she was overweight. ‘Overweight’ has increasingly become a description for people of a healthy weight for their height. The worst part about this is that because it has become normalised there is never any uproar which I sorely disagree with. The fact that talent is being overlooked because of how people look is horrific, we cannot continue to disregard people because of the size of their clothes.

It’s not just women getting scrutinised for their appearance though, men also suffer immense pressure to have the body of Olympic athletes with muscles bulging out left right and centre. ‘Real men have muscles’ is just the same as saying ‘real woman have curves’. Masculinity should not be judged by how big the biceps are, really it should not be judged at all. No man should feel like they have to prove their masculinity to anyone.

What we need to remember is that magazines, posters, social media posts and such like are all photoshopped and airbrushed to minimise any blemish or imperfection. The only way we are going to be able to change how people think about body image and how they perceive themselves is to stop comparing ourselves to these airbrushed magazines and realise that we are all beautiful for being just as we are. In this industry we need to stop looking at size and instead just see the talent right in front of us.

“I’m not beautiful like you. I’m beautiful like me” – Marilyn Monroe.

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