Dancing means being hungry or having an eating disorder. Anyways, the relationship with food is so complicated
Even during math class, she found it hard to think about training… Training every day before the World Cup.
Her legs hurt, her lower back hurt, she had a hard time focusing on everything else, she had no will for school or friends, she was not in a good mood, and she was focused only on dancing and the world championship.
Both her passion and her suffering. Everyday.
Now I have to focus on the lesson, I can’t think about it now, I can’t give in to this stress.
Less than half an hour passes and she is reminded of the dance again by a feeling in her stomach. It wasn’t anxiety this time. This time it was hunger. She tried to dismiss it, to ignore it, as she lately does.
She will never forget the images of how at the beginning of the year after she successfully auditioned, her coach mockingly told her that she needed to eat less if she wanted to be a really successful dancer. He said this is a top sport with global competition and that requires discipline in nutrition. She understands his message – food is not her friend, it is her competitor.
From that moment on, the rumination started. Every bite, every family lunch at grandma was torture. …slowly, every look in the fridge became a battle. They say if it’s persistently ignored, hunger kind of goes away.
Math and dance were both so easy for her, so related – in math, equations, in dancing, figures, much practice, much training, nailing it to perfection and soon you love this hard work and pain.
She loved math and was unhappy when the bell rang, announcing the end of class.
She was looking at a girl, maybe a little younger than her, she had a big butt.
Do I also have such a big butt, she asked herself and turned so that she could look at herself in the big window on the bus. Her bottom seemed literally huge to her.
Oh, what I would give to be like a stickleback, tall, without curves.
Ever since she was a little girl, her mom told her she had the most beautiful little bottom in the whole world….but she hated that round ass of hers. It’s in fashion now.
When dancing, her gluteus is strength, push, and stability. For her coach, her gluteus is …too much food.
As soon as she won the World Championships in Germany last year, her coach told her there was no other option but to fight and keep that medal and her ideal position for her international career…..since then, she gave up all food…almost all the food. It was exactly 8 months and 13 days ago since she ate the last croissant.
This bus chatter. All peers on the bus are talking and laughing. So annoying. She felt like crying because she couldn’t feel free and laugh. She feels caught between dance, school, food…that food. She is hungry all the time, and so she is thinking about food all the time. She has a bad conscience about every crumb. Like being in prison. It is hard. The bus stop where she has to get off.
Do others also have these internal dialogues? For example, what is the saleswoman in the tobacconist thinking? She is probably not very comfortable doing the same thing every day, being on her feet, standing and selling newspapers to the same customers. She hat to be tired. I’m tired, she thought. I’m also terribly hungry.
The coach will not be here today, his assistant is coming instead. Lea is a kind, disciplined peer, and an art student and she has a very big nose. She is still a very successful competitor, she wins medals in senior competitions, I admire her. She is the only good news of the day so far.
We start training.
I finished training completely soaked. While catching my breath, I start to shake, what is this…I’m in panic……what is this? I try to control my hands, my legs, I sit down, and my body is shaking. Will it pass? Should I call my mom to pick me up?
Here comes Lea.
She looks at me, straight into my eyes: are you starving by any chance? She sits next to me and hugs me.
I know, she says, we all have the same problem. Starving is part of the dance. It takes away its beauty, it is its inner compulsion, bad compulsion. But you know, you still have time to expel this devil out. Don’t starve and don’t diet. Most diets fail. If you don’t eat, you can’t smile, enjoy.
We must demystify the common misconceptions about fat, calories, and our bodies. Nobody is the same. Don’t do it anymore, ask for help, tell it someone, and don’t be alone in this. This is not the life you so hard work for. I know I was there at this terrible place, so I speak to you from my heart. You need to tell it to someone before your mind goes too far and everything becomes a rabbit hole of no return.
I cried. I think I cannot stop crying today. I felt like some stones left my body…I feel so ashamed my secret was exposed, but then again, I felt it was coming sooner or later…and speaking with Lea felt good at the end. I am not so alone in my suffering.
She is right, I have to ….I have to find…really I have to find…a way to tell to my mom.
I will need to deal with her shock, but then again, I cannot do it without her.
By Jadranka Jezeršek Turnes