I have been a dancer for about 14 years now, and not just any dancer, ballet. I was classically trained in ballet for about 13 years. Something my parents thought was a passing phase, it wasn't. While other girls flocked to the new and exciting sports of volleyball and soccer I was still holding on to my ballet shoes, unaware what it was doing to my psyche.
Most of the time, if not all of the time when casting for certain roles the dance world is colorblind there is not racial preference, rather, the preference is supposedly "who dances best" unfortunately that is sometimes code for "which dancer best looks the part" and I mean aesthetically, if you're too curvy or too busty or too tall or whatever, you won't even get looked at for a part. This is especially hard if you've been training for months to nail a step or a technique that will aid you in the role you're striving for.
It didn't happen much in my early years of ballet but as I was getting into high school, and was able to be a contender for more principal roles, I was noticing more often than not the same girls would get the leads, which is wonderful; they were great dancers but it begs to question what lines did they have that I didn't. And in my head, those were the words that plauged me. At barre, during class all the girls are lined up looking in a full length mirror to make sure the body was in the correct position, however no one used it for that rather it was used to compare one girl's body to another. A habit that is a dangerous one to develop.
Eventually I quit ballet and traded it for cheerleading my senior year of high school and was overwhelmed with the positivity I was greeted with compared to the more snide and competitive side of ballet. I of course missed dancing. It had been part of my life for so long that I felt empty without it, however it happened that I wasn't comparing myself to other dancer's bodies anymore. I was finding more about body positivity, and even moreso found a new love for other types of excercise that was more "suited" to my body. Where it wasn't an uphill battle, aka running, biking, and hiking. All of which makes me feel great about myself and my body. However, I still missed dancing, so I decided to go back to it in college...the girls are more mature and there isn't exactly a "role" to fill, it's a team enviornment filled with support and love, and while I have the habit of comparing my body to those of others, at least I know now that I don't have to be one specific body type to be considered "good."