Sexualizing Women in Ballet

Here’s a secret for you:

The original owner of Victoria’s Secret killed himself by jumping off the golden gate bridge. There must not have been any more halter bikini’s in nostalgic purple in his size. I feel his pain. Seriously, why is that color completely sold out!?

Victoria Secret claims that their success is for the most part securely cupped in the fact that their product appeals to both men and women; wearing their apparel (when it’s available!) is supposed to both make a woman feel good about herself and interest men.The same principle is supposed to hold true with the models chosen to represent the brand. The angels are supposed to be desirable to men and inspiring to women through a strange mix of beauty and class….and mesh and lace. Men wanna have them, women wanna be them.


I fully admit to falling right into my half of that trap. When I was young and insecure and full of body-hatred (so, last week…just kidding) I used to cut out the skinniest, hottest looking pictures and sick them on mirrors and my bedroom door as ‘thin-spiration’ basically to remind myself to eat less and do more ab workouts and hate my pale skin just a little more. I’m all for being inspired by beauty but not to the point that one’s thoughts and self-reflection becomes a pit of ugly. Anyways, that’s really not the point that I’m trying to make here.

While watching New York City Ballet over a week ago, I couldn’t help but think during Jerome Robbins’ ‘In the Night’ how gorgeous, stunning, wonderful the women were, how nondescript the men. We all know that Balanchine was famous for glorifying the female form in ballet and often using the men as merely a lifting display vessel (and then to subject to painful petite allegro)  but I digress.

Peter Martins and Darci Kistler- photo by Annie Leibowitz (1992)

Peter Martins and Darci Kistler- photo by Annie Leibowitz (1992)

I went to see Royal Winnipeg Ballet earlier this year and brought a heterosexual male that is none too exposed to ballet as my guest. HIs response was something like ‘it made me uncomfortable watching the men, I just prefer to see women moving that way’.

Does anyone else wonder if the appeal in ballet is similar to that of Victoria Secret? Women look at these graceful gorgeous strong agile women and want to be them; men look at them (and only them, avoiding the men) and want to know/possess/seduce them.

I hope that I’m not coming off as a raging leotard-clad feminist, I just wonder why it’s ok for men and women to watch the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and it’s too ‘girly’ to watch a ballet. Is it because of the presence of men? It can’t be an aversion to spandex and makeup, as I’m not sure who uses more, VS models or dancers. And if you’re just watching to see a body on display, why not watch bodies doing more than strutting and little turns on the catwalk? Maybe it’s all down to money, and women want the over-priced often boring  products to be like the ladies, men want to buy their ladies the stuff to make them more like the angels. How about we all just take ballet instead? You know what that one bad one-hit wonder from the 90’s singer says,

“I’m too sexy for my tutu, too sexy for my tutu, too sexy for my pointe shoes..”

hazing 060

2 thoughts on “Sexualizing Women in Ballet

  1. Pingback: 7 types of people who should NOT go to the Ballet | BODIES NEVER LIE

  2. Pingback: Hello Stranger; A Video Interview with Momix dancer, Steven Ezra | BODIES NEVER LIE

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