Winning the Battle against Eating Disorders

By Gowen, Katie | Dance Teacher, September 2004 | Go to article overview

Winning the Battle against Eating Disorders


Gowen, Katie, Dance Teacher


One dance teacher shares what she learned through her recovery from anorexia, and gives advice on what you can do to support students with eating disorders and those at risk for developing one.

It has been said that we teach others what we most need to learn ourselves. As a dance teacher who struggled with anorexia nervosa from a young age, these words have particular meaning for me. I have learned a great deal in my journey through dance and anorexia, from performer to teacher; now it is my mission to instill a sense of positive body image in my own students.

To date, researchers have yet to pinpoint a cause for anorexia and other eating disorders. Generally, it is believed that eating disorders are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, social, cultural and family factors. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues characterize eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

It is important to emphasize that dancing did not cause my eating disorder. It did, however, provide a place for it to worsen. Every day, I spent hours in the studio obsessing over my lean lines, turnout, flexibility and body positioning. Outside of the studio my obsession turned into calorie counting and food manipulation. Unfortunately, my dedication was praised by my teachers, though I in no way blame them, and was rewarded over the years with countless ribbons, trophies and awards. Eventually I went on to perform and teach professionally, while majoring in dance at a respectable university.

During college, and for the first time, instead of being praised for my obsession with perfection, I was wrongly suspected of using drugs to stay thin and energetic. As my body began to deteriorate, my risk of injury increased and I had more trouble getting through class. Eventually I was asked to take a hiatus in order to recover mentally and physically and, while potential legal issues were probably a consideration, my professors' decision was made predominantly out of concern for my health.

At the time I was angry and confused, but now I'm grateful. My behavior was hazardous not only to myself, but also to other dancers. It is not uncommon for those with eating disorders to compete with one another, trying to eat less or lose weight more quickly. They share tricks for purging or hiding their weight. Unfortunately, since dancers constantly share diet and exercise tips with one another, it may be difficult to separate those with eating disorders from those striving to reach their physical peak. Teachers ought to consider discouraging unsupervised conversation about food, weight and diet aids. Instead, lead regular discussions with parents and students about proper nutrition, or invite a nutritionist to visit class and speak with your dancers.

A medical doctor, therapist, psychiatrist and dietitian are essential players in the recovery process. In-patient treatment facilities are usually the best way to go. (In my case, these were the most effective in helping me recover-they saved my life a few times over. I, as many anorectics, did not respond well to out-patient treatment.)

If a student needs to take time off, it is important that she feel supported by her teachers and peers. While I was in treatment, the cards and letters I received from fellow dancers were invaluable sources of encouragement. Plus, when the student is able to return to class, the transition will be easier if she has been keeping in touch with her fellow dancers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Winning the Battle against Eating Disorders
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.