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Week 15: Let's Talk with Mentor and Dance Assistant, Sydney...

When we hired Sydney three years ago as a Dance Assistant and Mentor to our Powergirldancers, we knew she had a gift for dance, but there is so much more to this amazing teen. Sydney, a high school senior at The Northwest School, is also a talented performing singing artist with School of Rock. She is not only crazy smart, she is also very gentle and kind, she is great with kids and has a deep love for animals. Her affinity and knowledge of and for music, especially powerful and progressive female artists, is pretty impressive. Her own musical artistry is beautifully displayed here with her band, AnagramBand in the single 'Echoes'. Check it out here: https://anagrambandofficial.bandcamp.com/track/echoes-demo

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, Sydney took on another role: guest speaker at PowerGirlDance. Her talk wrapped up a month of talking about perfectionism and body image in girls and women. She shared her story of her struggle with anorexia, the need to feel in control, the pressure of 'being perfect' and how it has impacted her life. She named ballet as an unhealthy, perfectionistic atmosphere that affected the way she saw her body as well as recognizing that at the tender age of 12, she had feelings of isolation and a need to try to control things in her life. She felt that by limiting food intake and losing weight she had more of a sense of control. Her advice to the girls was to be on the lookout for warning signs, i.e. unhealthy relationships with food and emphasizing that for many, this is a mental illness. Sydney went on to say that while anorexia can be successfully treated, it is something that she will always struggle with. She cites her parents, friends and doctors as great supporters in helping her become healthier in the past and present.

For more than 20 million women (and 10 million men) in the United States, eating disorders will be present at some point in their lives. With brave people like Sydney, we can help rid the shame stigma that is attached to these disorders. A good start is recognizing/talking and standing up against the unrealistic expectations of women and girls displayed in our media and social media as well as being mindful of the language we use around appearance and beauty when talking to our daughters. That, in addition to recognizing that different factors (including mental illness) can help foster eating disorders.

Bravo, Sydney. Thank you for your courage, honesty and vulnerability in sharing your story. We can't wait to see what you do with your many talents- the world is yours for the taking!

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