Again, another comment that I just have to turn into a post. Thank you for the kind words, Paz Puente. Everyone, please read this. And before you get very upset, remember that this isn’t just about Joy, but what she and other dancers insist on doing to themselves (think about Misty Copeland dancing for months on a broken leg):
What I most miss in the social network era is slow thinking, articulate reasoning and intention behind content.
This is why I appreciate this blog so much: the intention of its content points to staying true to the original ballet and and an ongoing reflection about what ballet is not.
As I mentioned in other comments, I am far from being an expert on the art, but indeed in eating disorders. It took me ages to overcome them and I am still bound to the consequences, so I feel responsible of bringing the right information to the potential sufferers and in this aspect, Joy weaves plenty of red flags.
It’s easy to imagine her (or her teeny groupies) reacting badly to this blog or the opinions of those like me that are not really against her or her way of promoting her career but the questionable role model she is is to adolescents who are looking up to her content with naivety and lofty expectations.
There are few spaces where accurate information (and warning) can be published uncensored. I often fear that our perspective is misenterpreted as trolling. It’s not. This is very important to understand. My concern includes Joy with real compassion.
Everyone is entitled to self-promote, to make their lives public and to risk their lives, but to a certain limit. If you have followers with poor emotional intelligence -still in development-, if you belong to a profession that is prone to unhealthy patterns and obsessive behaviour, you owe viewers and followers some honesty so they can make informed choices.
There’s a big difference between a prima and a parasuicidal young ballerina who admits chronic eating disorders and displays a conduct which is generally self harming, especially if you are obscure about the themes treated.
There’s a big difference between work ethics and pathological public choices.
There’s a big difference between telling/showing others how your life is and using your social networking to sell snake oil and orient to unsafe medical procedures.
We’ve written about the ballerina hacking already.
Remember that one of the potential risks of autologous stem cell transplant was immune depression and infection?
Well. Bear with me, please and let’s analyze Joy’s posts last week:
First we see this in Instagram:
She gushes over performing at 104F fever (40ºC).Usual trick of foreshadowing impening drama.
Then she goes mia for days, leaving followers freaking out and praying for her.
Message: dismiss any of your abused body’s screams for rest, proper food and medical attention. Run to the brink. That’s what being a prima is all about. Swallow your Prima supplements. Be a martyr in the name of ballet.
Three days ago, she writes in Instagram: “Survival instinct is one of the tools cultivated almost exclusively on tour. I am grateful to be home safely after a close call during the end of the latest adventure in mainland China”, and she appears smiling (moon face from… bingeing/purging maybe? Massive cortisol and adrenaline surges from not stopping even when your body is giving up?)
Message: I am a survivor. To be a prima is to be a survivor. Be a barrier breaker. Risk death, it’s worth it.
A day ago: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRJxJOmDl4U/?taken-by=joy.womack&hl=es
She pulls a photo from the “Extreme ballerina” photoshoot, which was, in her own words “the coldest, most exhausting and challenging ever”
and she informs us that she is in “post pneumonia” like she has been at the supermarket.
Scary and self evident.
Some of her video titles are:
“Chaotic pursuit of perfection”
“How to rehearse on no sleep”
“Struggle through rehearsal”
“Danger, plateau ahead”
“Beginning of a dry spell”
“How to move forward regardless of your head”
“Loving the curveballs”
“Toxic Swan Lakes”
“Rest when you are dead”
“Working hard for you”
“At the end of the rope”
“Surviving in Halloween in Russia”
“Accepting the hard challenges”
“Turning on survivor mode”
“Teaching is hazardous”
“Art = extreme sport”
This drama-vocabulary would mean nothing in the era of click bait but considering that the average age of her groupies is 15-16 and even younger (according to the appearance of the askers she selects for her Q&A), easily gullible, impulsive, emotionally extreme and worship inclined as most adolescents, it’s another thing. Think these titles as a recorder to-do/to-be list in a 15 year old brain.
I can’t help feeling concerned, so here’s my unsolicited advice for thosethat read this blog and also follow Joy’s self inflicted ordeal:
1. The body is the vehicle of ballet. You cannot perform on empty. You cannot abuse it without harming your future career. You should never perform on a high fever because it is deadly.
2. Pneumonia and lousy immune system are part of the potential consequences of playing with not fully understood and therefore unsafe innovative medical technology. Mixing hyperbaric therapy, autologous stem cell therapy, little sleep, too much exercise, eating disorders and swallowing supplements as if they are legitimate substitutes for right food, proper rest and respecting physical limits is a recipe for disaster. Be humble, apply common sense, respect your limits and stick to basics: eat, sleep, think properly, have a support system, stay in balance.
3. In Joy’s prima supplements page something is being sold as L-Thianine. There’s no such thing. It’s called L-Theanine. It’s an aminoacid. If her prima mom and herself cannot even care about misprints we have a problem.
4. Masochism doesn’t make you a better ballerina. It may kill you. Be kind to your future self.
5. Narcissism won’t make you more visible or a better ballerina either. It only speaks of extreme self loathing, personality disorders and secret desperation. Think it twice before making an extreme person your role model.
6. There’s no substitute for life balance in performing arts.
7. Status anxiety, top level apartments, catchy hashtags won’t cover up for your technical issues, your lack of charisma and your obious death wish. There are better and healthier role models, people who knows how demanding ballet is, how precious, how intricate, how meaningful. Joy would be happier if she made inventory of WHY she is in this, because there are a lot of alternatives that would get her the attention, the care, the self importance she is trying to win through celebrity. It’s not easy to belong to a big family, lots of siblings and workaholic parents. Invisibility is one of the feelings that can result from just being one more.
8. Ballet is an art that asks for the very last drop of your energy and focus. The only rational motive to embrace it is sheer love for it. I cannot feel Joy’s love for her profession and that’s why connecting with her on stage is impossible.
9. If you want a rational approach to self care and feeding as a ballerina to follow and imitate, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5356zt0JiDY
10. Do yourself a favor and go youtube hunting of “healthy ballerina”. Really inform yourself about what it takes to sustain your body, your energy and your mind balance in this profession. Joy Womack doesn’t represent health in ballet.
11. On Joy’s helium voice: bingeing and purging can permanently affect vocal cords and depending on what area of them is most damaged it can lead to hoarse or extremely high pitch voice. I’ve met living examples of both. Also the extreme tension of her neck can be creating that effect. Don’t binge, don’t purge. Period.
12. On the music (because someone asked), she uses chillstep ambient mostly. The type of soundtrack used by top level youtubers, which she faithfully imitates. She has a souncloud channel https://soundcloud.com/joy-womack-1 and she pulls a lot from https://www.youtube.com/user/MrSuicideSheep / She frequently fails to respect copyrights.
13. On trashing your partners and peers in the profession: it’s not a very intelligent choice. Surviving alone is stressful. There are other ways of move your career forward, less childish than being delusional about your skills and assuming that those that criticize you are envious. Cooperation is possible without giving up your ambitions.
Thank you for bearing with me, despite the lengthy comment.
Thank you for this blog.