Friday, July 19, 2013


Ballerina Problems


Previously: The United States of Awesome

Jim Behrle tweets @behrle.

50 Comments / Post A Comment


"I am going to have the nastiest feet for the rest of my life."


@Megasus #HobbitProblems

fondue with cheddar

@adorable-eggplant I have hobbit feet. Thank goodness when it came time to go on pointe I quit ballet, because I would have been crippled.

tea sonata

@Megasus To be fair, I did ballet for 12 years (two of those en pointe). I am now 24 and my feet are not pretty. Although I am working on this through the medium of chiropodist appointments, comfortable biker boots, and lots of moisturiser and nail polish.


@Megasus Yep. I took 25 years of ballet, and I apologize to the nail tech every time I get a pedicure. My feet are the worst.


"I'll eventually turn into a swan and stab myself."


@Emby This should happen instead:


Jim! These are great.


"I'll never be Diana Vishneva."

(A problem for everyone who isn't Diana Vishneva, tbh.)

tea for all

@Lucienne or isabelle ciaravola.


Number one isn't just a being alive problem?


(Maybe that's just me)


"I am the best goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Academy. Who the hell are you? Nobody."


@Brunhilde that movie! the place it hold in my heart! to netflix!


@Brunhilde Best line from a movie ever? Yes, ever.

Heat Signature

"Buns give me a headache."


Oh man, I only did ballet until I was about 15, but it was still for a decade solid and almost 3 years en pointe. Even though I had a nice teacher at a totally low-pressure academy, that shit still gets under your skin.

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle Oh man, I wish I had your teacher. Mine was horrible and abusive, and I still went to her for nearly a decade because I didn't recognize her name-calling and humiliating treatment (from the age of 5 or 6!) as abuse—I actually thought I deserved it because I was a worthless "airhead" who would never be as good as anyone else at anything. :(


@yeah-elle Tell me about it. Our teacher quit the professional school in town to open her own student-friendly studio. Having been anorexic for years, her goal was to teach us to enjoy ballet and treat our bodies well. We still all starved ourselves at one point or another, though. Teenagers + spandex + mirrors = bad news.


@fondue with cheddar Oh man, I'm so sorry you went through that. There's a special place in hell reserved for people who are cruel to children who are just trying to learn things and enjoy themselves, ughhhh.

@Devushka Exactly. My teacher was pretty body-friendly and never ever shamed or never really commented on the variety of body types we had in our class at all, but to dance well, you still had to have that posture, all elongated with abs tightened and butt tucked in, and even innocent (and necessary, really) instruction like "tummies flat! fannies in!" did their damage eventually.

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle I'm glad your teacher was body-friendly, but I totally agree that the "tummies flat, fannies in" stuff gets to you. Mine didn't comment on body types, but when I saw her with other classes I noticed that she was harder on the fat girls. I was rail-thin; she criticized me for forgetting my steps. Besides the name-calling, there also was lots of humiliating treatment where she grabbed me hard and angrily shuffled my arms and/or legs and/or entire body into place, often knocking me off balance in the process. Her six children all hate her, too. She has been banned from having contact with some of her grandchildren.

A special place in hell, indeed. I've seen that with coaches a lot, too. So awful.


@fondue with cheddar Ugh, she sounds like the worst. Teachers are supposed to be nurturing, damnit.

It's scary because the smallest stuff can stay with you, which is kind of something that worries me about maybe parenting someday? You can say things completely innocuously that stick with kids anyway. Pretty much the only thing I remember my teacher saying about body types was, "Even the skinniest girl can still have a tummy"—about us not tightening our core muscles. It was supposed to act as a reminder to engage our whole bodies and hold ourselves properly, but instead it just heightened the fear I had of being suddenly, irreversibly fat, like it would sneak up on me, and surprise—fat. Those words still stay with me today, which might seem melodramatic, but obviously I still remember it over a decade later, which is...yikes.

Honestly, I have a hard time parsing my time as a dancer and how it shaped me, sometimes. As a teenager I struggled with anorexia, which weirdly only got really destructive after I quit ballet, and I don't think those issues really stemmed from my dancing at all, but they can't be completely unrelated, right? I almost feel like ballet was more a positive influence than anything else, because it was one of the few ways in which I actually felt connected with my body at all, both physically and emotionally. WHO KNOWS, RIGHT?

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle I don't know, you said you stopped at 15, and that is definitely a normal age to develop an eating disorder. While it's true that dancing made you more aware of your body, there are tons of things that make you hyperaware of your body as an adolescent. If it's not dancing, it's something else.

I understand what you mean about parenting. There are little things that have stuck with me too, and I know now that they really did mean well when they said it. But there's no way a parent can avoid ever saying anything like that to a child. All parents do it, and most kids turn out just fine. We're all a little screwed up, that's what makes us interesting! You're a good, smart person with a healthy sense of herself and the world. If you choose to have kids, I think you would make a great parent.

My parents didn't want my brother and me to be ashamed of nakedness, so they would often pee and get changed with the door open. For the same reason, my dad also made no secret about having Playboy magazines (he even bought one while we were with him once). I understand where he was coming from, but it did have an effect that was not entirely good on my perception of sex and sexiness and women and men. Maybe practicing making sexy come-hither faces in the mirror at age 9 and having pretend Playboy photo shoots with my girlfriends is not healthy, but I turned out okay. I lost my virginity at 17 (later than many of my friends), didn't get knocked up, and wasn't promiscuous (until college, anyway). Did I have some incorrect ideas about what female sexuality was all about? Sure. But so do most girls at that age.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is a lot that goes into how good of a parent you are and how well-adjusted your kids will be, and one little comment isn't going to destroy their lives. As long as you treat them with love and respect, they'll be fine.


@fondue with cheddar You're so right, and a much more rational thinker about all this than I am most of the time, haha.

Being in one's body, ideas about sexuality and gender—they're all such complex landscapes that it's literally impossible to avoid some potholes. Love and respect is the baseline, as you said. From there, we all muddle along, parents and children alike.

Also, regarding my own personal history—I think I mostly was just depressed (which is why I quit dance in the first place, because I lost interest in it, and everything), and my disordered eating manifested itself as a coping mechanism for both that depression and the feeling that my body was not really my own, which I definitely didn't understand consciously at the time, but in the years since, I've realized that the vast majority of my difficulties then were a reaction to going through puberty while simultaneously being surrounded by misogyny and its million mixed messages about femininity and sexuality.

Whew, way to air laundry on the internet, but yeah.

Judith Slutler

@yeah-elle I don't know, hon. We've talked about Food Issues before and I definitely got mine about the same time. Like Fondue With Cheddar, I actually suspect that eating disorders are a fairly common maladaption to a wide range of cultural influences. This year I actually straight up told my Mom, who is horribly guilty about how long it took her to realize I was starving myself, that it just isn't her fault and maybe there was nothing she could've done. I mean, she was a great influence and super body- and food-positive, but she couldn't shield me from everything.

I guess in terms of parenting my game-plan (for if I ever have a child lololol) is to do prevention, but also plan on having to do some triage too. We act like someone has failed as a parent if their kid becomes mentally ill, but DEALING with that circumstance is when I think gold star parents really show their mettle.


@Judith Slutler Wow, that must have been a difficult conversation with your mom. It must be tough for parents to understand that there is some stuff they just can't protect their kids from. I mean, here I am freakin out about it and I'm nowhere near having kids at all.

Re: showing their mettle, yes, my mom totally showed what a total badass she was with how she dealt with me. As a teenager, I loathed her for putting me in treatment, for sitting with me in her car outside school every lunch hour, watching me eat sandwiches, for absolutely not budging when I tried to lie...but she grit her teeth and did everything she could to ensure my health, and my god, it could not have been anywhere approaching easy. It's one of those things where I've tried to thank her, but it hasn't even occurred to her, that she did anything out of the ordinary. But she really was (and is) incredible. Parents, man! They can mess you up, but they can also make all the difference in the world, they can do both at the same time.

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle "the vast majority of my difficulties then were a reaction to going through puberty while simultaneously being surrounded by misogyny and its million mixed messages about femininity and sexuality."

ME TOO THIS. I think the only reason I don't freak out and overthink this stuff is because I don't have kids and don't plan to. Which makes me an expert, obviously. ;)

@Judith Slutler "We act like someone has failed as a parent if their kid becomes mentally ill, but DEALING with that circumstance is when I think gold star parents really show their mettle."

You hit the nail on the head there.

Judith Slutler

@yeah-elle Yeah it was tough. And facilitated by vodka as we both shoved salmon blini into our mouths. MOTHER-DAUGHTER MOMENTS

Judith Slutler

Is this the thread to talk about how great / horrible Black Swan was? I am the world's biggest wimp when it comes to body horror and that film made an impression on me


@Judith Slutler I thought I would love any movie where Vincent Cassel played a sexually magnetic/predatory update on Boris Lermontov but I was wrrrrrrrong.


@Judith Slutler It's one of those movies that would probably be even better on a second viewing, but I don't think I can handle the body horror again. Nyaaaaaagh.


@Judith Slutler Forever creeped out by the cake scene. Just the way her mom feeds her icing.

Judith Slutler

@Lucienne I was amazed at how a movie made by a dude actually went there in terms of depicting pure male sleaziness. It was incredible and incredibly disturbing.

Heat Signature

@Judith Slutler I was actually sort of disappointed in Black Swan! I was so, so looking forward to it and I love the director, and then when I finally saw it I was like, "Meh". Maybe because there had been so much build up? Related: I saw the move like, a year after it came out, because children ruin everything.


@Judith Slutler Never saw it. Won't see it ever. Even the body horror stuff in the trailer was too much for me.


@Judith Slutler You mean, how greatly horrible it was? After everyone kept telling me how I had to see it, I finally watched it on a plane earlier this year. So much of it was just over-the-top silly. When Winona Ryder freaks out toward the end I had to bite my lip to keep from busting out laughing and disturbing my seatmates.

(The body horror didn't bother me as much, because I kind of lived a less dramatic version as a teenager when I was determined to be a dancer.)



Quinn A@twitter

@KeLynn Apparently some people eat tissues to suppress their appetites.

Angry Panda

@KeLynn I read that as "I pooed on a napkin" and thought it was some ballet thing I've never heard of, although I didn't know of the tissue-eating thing, either.


I greatly appreciate that the color of the paper corresponds with the color of the ballerina's outfit. I also enjoy glitter.


I had that exact same set of ballerina stickers when I was little! I adored them and used them very judiciously. You were greatly loved if you received art from me graced with the green ballerina.

lucy snowe

I had a colleague once who had been a dancer, until she didn't make it into a certain prestigious academy because her head was too big.

And you know, there really isn't anything to be done about that one. Maybe someday plastic surgeons will master the art of planing down perfectly healthy skulls...


I don't like this one. It makes me sad. Maybe that's the point?
I do like that the first sticker has the same arm-creeps-up-to-keep-up-with-the-leg-in-arabesque problem I have.


@literary_hippie Ditto. This one makes me feel sad, like trying hard isn't important, and like just because a goal is lofty we shouldn't try to work for it.
Not that I should talk, I'm getting an accounting degree. But it still made me feel bad.

Jim Behrle@twitter

@literary_hippie Sorry guys! I will make the next one funnier

christopher hart

I never see these kind of post really it's very amazing chris hart


it's really a big deal a ballerina

nill lee

Oh man, I only did ballet until I was about 15, but it was still for a decade solid and almost 3 years en pointe. Even though I had a nice teacher at a totally low-pressure academy, that shit still gets under your skin.


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