‘I was so TERRIFIED to see myself in a leotard’: Ballerina, 18, shares ongoing struggle with body dysmorphia, as she admits the accepted ‘norm’ in dance is to be ‘STICK-thin’
- Luna Hoetzel, 18, is a ballet dancer and student living in Los Angeles, California
- The ballerina shared a video to her YouTube channel on Thursday, March 7
- In the clip, Luna discussed her ongoing struggle with body dysmorphia, and the different ways she copes with the disorder
- She revealed that she first started battling body dysmorphia in the eighth grade
- Luna said around this time, she was ‘terrified’ to see herself in her ballet clothes
- In order to cope better with the disorder, Luna ‘unfollowed’ many Instagram accounts that made her feel insecure in herself
- She also consciously avoids using social media in the morning, and instead chooses to write out daily affirmations to start her day off on a positive note
- Luna’s latest open-hearted chat comes three months after she shared a video entitled ‘I hate my body’, in which she broke down into tears
A young ballet dancer has revealed the different ways she deals with body dysmorphia that resulted from the strict demands of the dance industry.
18-year-old Luna Hoetzel’s latest video follows just three months after she shared a video entitled ‘I hate my body’, during which she opened up about her insecurities relating to her body image.
In her most recent video, the Los Angeles, California-based dancer and student opened up to her viewers about the different ways she struggles and deals with body dysmorphia, which she says she developed when she was in the eighth grade.
Opening up: 18-year-old ballerina Luna Hoetzel shared a video to YouTube in which she discussed her experience suffering with body dysmorphia
Hearfelt: The California-based dancer, who has been dancing since the age of three, said she began suffering with body dysmorphia around the time she was in the eighth grade
Luna revealed at the beginning of her heartfelt video that she has been dancing since she was just three-years-old.
‘Ballet is a very, very body-based art form,’ she explained. ‘As you know, the stereotypical ballerina has to be quite thin. I can say that its almost a fact that every single ballet dancer has some sort of body dysmorphia – that’s just my experience, and my friends, and what I know about the ballet industry.’
Struggle: Body dysmorphia refers to a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance
According to Mayo Clinic, body dysmorphia refers to a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance – a flaw that is either minor or not observable to other people.
She said: ‘To be honest, I don’t have it as bad as many people do. I have never had an eating disorder, never struggled with anorexia, bulimia, any of that, which I am very, very thankful [for].
‘In this day and age it’s crazy the pressures we put on ourselves in what we should look like. Every day we’re scrolling through through Instagram. We wake up and start our day scrolling through Instagram and seeing all these face-tuned photo-shopped pictures that we think we’re supposed to look like,’ she said.
The 18-year-old said that we, as humans, put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be a ‘perfect person’.
She added: ‘But the truth is, we weren’t created to go and have to get spray tans or hair appointments or nails done or waxes. All those beauty standards were just placed on us over the years, and that’s not what we’re here to do.’
Luna said she first began struggling with body dysmorphia around the time she was in the eighth grade at school, during which time students are usually aged between 12 and 14-years-old.
She said that during this time she began editing her photos using apps such as FaceTune – an app that allows users to edit, retouch and enhance photos.
She said: ‘I started face-tuning my photos.
‘I started wearing skirts, pants and warm-ups to dance that I wouldn’t take off because I was so terrified to see myself in a leotard and tights. It was my worst fear.
‘Going to auditions not being allowed to wear a skirt, going to summer intensives and not being allowed to wear a skirt. Just living in constant fear over my body.
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Lifestyle: Luna has been dancing since she was three-years-old, and says the stereotypical ballerina has to be ‘quite thin’
Dance: When she was in eighth grade, she said she began editing her photos, and wearing skirts and pants to ballet class because she was ‘terrified’ to see herself in tights and a leotard
‘It wasn’t even dance it was normal life too, even though I was considered and am considered on a skinnier scale on the normal societal views,’ she said.
However, Luna explained that while she might appear on the ‘skinnier scale’ in every day life, standards within the dance industry can be different.
She explained: ‘In dance, the norm is stick-thin, amazing feet, hyper-extended legs, no crazy waist, no big hips, [being] very narrow, skinny arms, long arms, long neck – there’s so many things to think about.
Tough: The ballerina said although she is considered on the ‘skinnier scale’ in normal society, the standards in the ballet industry are different
‘It’s not even “fat” or “skinny”, it’s “are my legs shaped the right way?”
Luna said, in the world of ballet, you can end up doubting ‘every single thing’.
She explained: ‘It could literally be your pinky finger that doesn’t work right, and you beat yourself up about it.
‘It’s a crazy, crazy art form,’ she added.
Luna said ballet teaches those who practice it to become ‘a perfectionist’, which she says can both be a good and a bad thing.
She explained that dancing has also given her many new friends.
She said: ‘Ballet has given me far more than my struggles with it.
‘It has given me the most amazing people, friends, mentors. I’ve met my best friends in dance. Our connection is un-severed – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt,’ she added.
She added that the dance form has taught her to be responsible and independent, through ensuring she always had the correct clothing and equipment with her at all times.
However, the impact ballet has had on her mental health has been different.
She said: ‘Ballet comes with a lot of mental health issues. Even if you’re not a ballet dancer you are probably watching this and you’re probably a teenager in today’s day and age who struggles.
‘And it’s crazy what we think we need to look like,’ she continued.
Standards: She said that the ‘norm’ in ballet is to be ‘stick thin’, and well as having ‘no crazy waist, no big hips, [being] very narrow, skinny arms’
Self-doubt: Luna said ballet has made her doubt various aspects of her body. She explained: ‘It could literally be your pinky finger that doesn’t work right, and you beat yourself up about it’
Sad: The ballerina’s latest video follows three months after her video entitled ‘I hate by body’ during which she broke down about the bad thoughts she had about herself after a rehearsal
And throughout her years struggling with body dysmorphia, Luna has adopted a few healthy habits that help her remain more positive in herself and in her body image.
She said: ‘If you are struggling with body dysmorphia I am sure you follow a lot of girls on Instagram. I don’t want to name names, but models, Victoria’s Secret models, Insta-baddies, just to name a few.
Help: In order to help her combat body dysmorphia, Luna ‘unfollowed’ a number of different people on Instagram who she said made her feel insecure in herself
‘Listen to me right now. You’re going to go on and unfollow every single page that makes you feel bad about yourself. If you somehow don’t want to, then mute their posts, mute their stories.
‘I know it’s hard and I know you want to see it but at the end of the day if it’s making you feel bad about yourself it’s not worth it,’ she said.
Luna explained that she has recently ‘unfollowed’ a lot of Instagram users that made her feel insecure in herself, because it’s ‘just not worth it’. She added that she now consciously avoids using social media in the morning time.
She said: ‘The first thing I do when I wake up is scroll through Instagram and Snapchat and I feel like an insane person – literally like I’m on crack. I’m starting my morning with such anxiety and such stress and already feeling down on myself, that’s no way to start a morning.’
She explained that she has began avoiding social media early in the day by going straight to the bathroom and leaving her phone charging in her room.
‘I put on daily affirmations on my laptop or I write them down and put them on my mirror,’ she said.
‘Some sentence that you repeat ten times to make yourself empowered and give you hope for the day. Just get off your phone in the morning.
‘You have to realize that this the only body you were given to live. Why would I starve it or be mean to it in any way? This is the only place that I was given to live. This is our one chance at life and I’m wasting so much energy feeling bad about the weight on our thighs. That’s crazy.
‘There’s so much else that we have to do. We have no time at all to be wasting energy worrying about ourselves like that. That one really got to me and I think that’s why I’ve gotten better over the past couple of months as well. You have to realize your purpose on earth.
‘Body means nothing. We’re all so beautifully different. There’s no one body that is the same. You are the only one that owns your body,’ she said.
Coping: Luna also tries to avoid using social media in the morning, and instead looks at daily ‘affirmations’ on her laptop or writes them down and sticks them to her bathroom mirror
Positive: The dancer said: ‘body means nothing. We’re all so beautifully different. There’s no one body that is the same. You are the only one that owns your body’
Honesty: Speaking about pressure surrounding food and food choices, Luna said, that although it is important to eat healthily, ‘your body does not define you’
As she began discussing the way food can impact people physically and mentally, she said: ‘It’s a different story if you’re not treating your body right, if you’re eating a lot of processed foods, if you’re eating a lot of candy every day, obviously that’s not right. Your body will react, not even in weight, but in your soul. You’re not going to feel good.’
However, Luna said that the amount of pressure and worry surrounding food and food choices ‘doesn’t matter’.
She explained: ‘We place so much worry on food, and obviously it’s very important, but why would I put so much energy into worrying [about] what my next meal is going to be, if it’s going to be healthy?
Idols: She referenced Michelle Obama, Gloria Steinem and Malala in her video, saying that when we think about those women, we don’t think about ‘how big their thighs are’ or ‘if they have stomach fat’
‘Imagine me sitting there at 90 years old and saying “thank God I didn’t eat half that cookie that day” – it doesn’t matter. Your body does not define you.’
The 18-year-old then compared various female icons, and stated that they are not known or respected solely because of their physical appearance, but because of what they have done ‘for this world’.
She said: ‘When you think about someone like Michelle Obama, Gloria Steinem or Malala, are you thinking about how big their thighs are, or if they have stomach fat?
‘No! You think about the amazing things they’ve done for this world and all of those women have a purpose. It doesn’t even cross our minds. They know they only have this life to make a difference, and they did.
‘It’s crazy how much importance we place on beauty standards when in reality all that matters is what we leave this earth with,’ she added.
Luna returned to the topic of retouched photos, as she said: ‘You probably know first hand what it’s like to see a face-tuned photo and want to look like that. I’m sure every single one of you have dealt with that.
‘You’ve looked at a photo of some model, some celebrity, and said to yourself “oh, I want to look like that, how do I look like that”. It makes you feel guilty, it makes you feel bad.
‘Why would you contribute to that and pass that onto younger girls? What kind of message is that passing on to younger generations? Do you want to make them feel the same way you did?
‘We need to stop it before it passes on to our kids. I hope that us, as a generation, can put an end to this because it’s unrealistic standards that, again, we were never, ever, ever meant to develop,’ she added.
Message: Luna said it’s vital for the young generations to put a stop to displaying ‘unrealistic standards’ to younger girls, saying: ‘Do you want to make them feel the same way you did?’
Hope: Concluding her heartfelt video, Luna said she hoped it helped people struggling with similar issues as her, as she said ‘I know how hard it is. I struggle with it every single day.’
Concluding her open-hearted chat, the ballerina highlighted the fact that diversity ‘makes us strong’, and that no two bodies are the same.
She said: ‘The fact that I have a different body to every single one of you guys watching this right now is incredible. How amazing that we’re all beautifully different? Diversity is what makes us strong.
‘I really hope this made sense and empowered you in some way to try and get out of your head. I know how hard it is. I struggle with it every single day.
Kind: Luna said that she isn’t a therapist who can offer professional advice surrounding the issue of body dysmorphia, but that she can talk ‘girl to girl’ and ‘teen to teen’
‘I’m wearing pink tights and a leotard every day, and picking myself apart.
At the end of the video, Luna added that although she isn’t a therapist who can offer professional advice, she said the aim of the video was to talk ‘girl to girl, teen to teen’.
‘If it’s a serious, serious issue, and it’s life or death, you guys need to ask for help.
‘It can ruin years of your life that you can’t even experience because you’re worried so much about your body,’ she said.
Luna’s latest video comes just three months after she posted a video entitled ‘I hate my body’, in which she broke down about the negative thoughts and image she had about herself after a dress rehearsal for an upcoming show at the time, The Nutcracker.
Luna admitted this was a side of herself that she had never before shown online, but she wanted to open up about her feelings so her peers and followers would understand.
She said: ‘Ever since I posted that video I’ve been feeling a lot more confident, and I think that mainly has to do with you guys.
‘The fact that I have a huge support group out there, and girls that I can talk to and who can relate to me. When you realize you’re not alone, things just go up from there.
‘It has given me purpose and it has made me realize that my struggles don’t define me. What defines me is what I do in this world.
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