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Coverage: The war between artistic perfection and mental disorders

Art education perpetuates teaching models that encourage harmful competition and generate psychological disorders in those who aspire to be professionals

Coverage: The war between artistic perfection and mental disorders

A year and a half ago, I decided to start my career as an artist, specifically in the dance area, at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia, fully aware that the path was going to be difficult. The difficulty, in my mind, was how much I would have to change my habits after living a completely sedentary life.

Leer en español: Reportaje: La guerra entre la perfección artística y los trastornos mentales

I did not imagine at any time that this change would mean stopping eating for hours or going to lose 22 pounds on vacation, with a questionable diet, to have an "ideal" body that would allow me to "improve my performance".

The National Association of Collegiate Athletes (NCAA) identifies eating disorders as serious health problems and points out that those most exposed to developing disordered eating habits are those who participate in activities such as gymnastics, figure skating, dance, and cheerleading.

I did not seek help because, fortunately, I did not reach a critical stage. However, for several days, I blamed myself for having been so weak to succumb to the recommendation of my teacher to lose weight that, although made with good intentions, I took very personal because of my history of fatness.

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"Food problems are always there. It is a war between the self image and how the other values ​​me ... beyond the fact that we stop eating, it is the situation of how we started to see each other and we created an image for the other to validate it", explains Martha Montaño, student of Dance in the Javeriana university.

Art education, unfortunately, continues to perpetuate teaching models that, instead of contributing to the growth of human quality, encourage harmful competition and generate, in this way, psychological disorders in those who aspire to be professionals in the field.

"Especially when we talk about ballet academies, where they are very strict with some requirements that they ask aspiring dancers, we seek to achieve quite high standards of perfection both in the movements and in the aesthetic part, where we have to have and keep a figure", says Dr. Silvana Cabrera, neuropsychologist at the cardio-infant foundation.

I did not imagine at any time that this change would mean stopping eating for hours or going to lose 22 pounds on vacation, with a questionable diet, to have an "ideal" body that would allow me to "improve my performance".

Montaño remembers that in one of her many academies of dance training, she had to go through several levels to discover where she was and, with anger, she says that in the most advanced levels she had to face the criticism of a teacher who wanted the students to know everything.

"If I go to an academy it is to learn something every day, but instead they ignore the processes and choose to observe or praise the one who makes it 'perfect'. It also happens that, when composing, girls who take more lessons or pay to the academy regularly have advantage. They do not value you for what you do, but if you belong to the social thread", says Montaño.

For Dr. Cabrera, the tendency shown by society to value being "extraordinary" triggers many problems in those who try to reach these standards. This is why, although you should encourage excellence from young people, at home you can help manage the frustration that comes with disappointment.

"Frustration or error will always appear and it is not a bad thing to have any difficulty, that will always appear and you should live with it and learn to manage it. We have to stress day by day that we can not have everything immediately, that we should wait, that we have to make an effort and that many times, if we try hard, things will not be as we expect", says Cabrera.

"People who are about to graduate made me feel that what I am is not worth it, that every mistake I make is because I must not be where I am and I went into a terrible depression"

All this is summarized in a very complex educational problem because, in one way or another, the one that teaches today had to fit within the same model at the time; a model that for some is quite convenient in its search for "power" or acceptance.

"People who are about to graduate made me feel that what I am is not worth it, that every mistake I make is because I must not be where I am and I went into a terrible depression. I thought leaving the emphasis, like many others, because they did not give me the opportunity to prove that the way my body moves is valid and, since I was not in their social circle, my presence did not work", says Montaño.

At that point the anxiety or panic problems become a torture for fear of being judged. Students leave aside their own feeling and everything starts to revolve around how others define you or how you define yourself in front of others: I do not raise my leg like Andrea, I do not do as many turns as Juan, I'm not so good as Carolina.

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"I started feeling miserable and wondering if I was ever going to be good at what I want to do in my life. The problems of self-esteem and loneliness came; I did not want to be with anyone because I felt that everyone judged me and I became hostile. I walked away from myself because others made me believe that what I was was not worth", Martha concluded.

A somatic education, which approaches the movement from a conscious feeling and thinking, is a methodology that could replace the constant enhancement or degradation of the other by its doing. Removing terms such as "good" or "bad" and allowing everyone to show what their body can or cannot do gives well-directed life projects and positive feedback that builds and does not destroy.

 

LatinAmerican Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez
Translated from "Reportaje: La guerra entre la perfección artística y los trastornos mentales"

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