Dancing and Its Effects on Self-Esteem

Introduction

The phenomenon of self-esteem is rather delicate and easily affected by a large number of social and cultural factors. The presence of prejudices and unhealthy representation of the body in modern media have deleterious effects on people’s self-esteem, which is especially true for the younger demographic (Mansfield et al. 2). To address the specified problem, the introduction of dancing as a therapeutic method of changing one’s perception of one’s body is needed.

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Literature Review

The problem of low self-esteem is a complex issue defined by both external standards of beauty and internalized criticism of self. The described phenomenon is amplified by the presence of rigid social standards, causing people that fail to meet the set standards to feel distressed and even result in them being socially ostracized (Ho 10). Dancing, in turn, provides the target demographic with a chance to reconnect with the community and establish a rapport with people, at the same time exploring the extent of their physical abilities and recognizing the pointlessness of the existing beauty standards.

In addition, studies show that dancing allows people to expand the range of physical skills that they have, thus dissuading them of the idea of their inability to perform complex exercises and being characterized as clumsy or unfit. According to a recent study, after participating in dancing classes, people that take up dancing classes

Moreover, dancing is shown to affect people’s social skills, causing them to build the abilities to communicate with others. Being a very high-contact activity, dancing inevitably leads to the increased communication between partners and, thus, introduces participants to the process of socialization (Maraz et al. 9). As a result, people with body image issues learn to overcome their shyness and start conversing with others, learning in the process that they are accepted and not judged by others (Mansfield et al. 4). The theme of overcoming alienation and one’s personal fears is clearly the strongest in the narrative of people using dancing as the method of increasing self-esteem.

Finally, due to the changes that it has on one’s physical processes, dancing causes a noticeable shift in one’s emotional state. Research points out that dancing leads to higher rates of serotonin production, which increases one’s ability to experience positive emotions and, therefore, creates premises for improving one’s self-esteem spectacularly (). Overall, the potential that dancing as a therapeutic tool holds for people with self-esteem issues is believed to be very high.

Analysis

An overview of the existing literature has proven that there are evident trends in changing people’s attitudes toward their bodies and their self-esteem using dancing as a type of therapy. The shift in priorities, which occurs as one focuses on building skills rather than changing one’s physical appearance is one of the main themes identified in the course of the review (Maraz 2). Therefore, it will be logical to conclude that people who take up dancing change their image of their body and learn to accept it by recognizing that the extent of their abilities is not tied to their physical appearance.

Given the described outcomes of dancing as a therapeutic tool for learning to cope with body dysmorphia and similar disorders, dancing should be seen as an important tool in improving one’s perception of self and, therefore, the development of self-esteem. Dancing provides ample opportunities for reevaluating one’s abilities and recognizing the full extent of one’s physical capacities, thus debunking social myths about the body image. Therefore, dancing should be included into the set of strategies for managing the problems associated with low self-esteem and poor body image.

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Finally, the connection between social skills that dancing helps to build and the changes in one’s self-esteem needs to be addressed. While the link between social skills and the development of self-esteem might not seem noticeable at first, a closer analysis of the connection between the two will reveal that the development of communication abilities allows one to become more confident (Maraz 8). Therefore, the use of dancing as the gateway to increasing one’s circle of contacts should be linked to the development of self-esteem and the ability to overcome social prejudices.

Conclusion

The introduction of dancing as a therapy for managing low self-esteem and a poor image of one’s own body is expected to lead to vastly positive outcomes. Due to the opportunities for developing physical skills, people introduced to dancing have a better image of themselves and gain an opportunity to improve their self-esteem to a substantial degree. Therefore, dancing as a therapy method for addressing low self-esteem and possible mental health issues that are typically comorbid with the specified concern offers a broad range of opportunities. Building premises for a reciprocal communication process and a closer connection to the community, dancing relieves one of the weight of prejudices that lower one’s self-esteem. In addition, learning about the actual extent of one’s physical abilities that one possesses despite not meeting set criteria for beautiful appearance has proven to be very empowering. Therefore, dancing should be seen as an important part of the therapy process geared toward raising one’s self-esteem.

Works Cited

Ho, Rainbow Tin Hung. “A Place and Space to Survive: A Dance/Movement Therapy Program for Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors.” The Arts in Psychotherapy, vol. 46m no. 1, 2015, pp. 9-16.

Mansfield, Louise, et al. “Sport and Dance Interventions for Healthy Young People (15–24 years) to Promote Subjective Well-Being: A Systematic Review.” BMJ Open, vol. 8, no. 7, 2018, pp. 1-16. Web.

Maraz, Aniko, et al. “Why Do You Dance? Development of the Dance Motivation Inventory (DMI).” Plos One, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 1-11. Web.

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