Self-compassion: A potential buffer in a highly evaluative dance environment


Common characteristics of the dance environment, including mirrored settings, tight-fitted clothing, and evaluation by others, contribute to an atmosphere that can negatively influence a ballet dancer’s body image (Radell et al., 2011; Tiggemann & Slater, 2001).  Thus, it is important to identify resources that can buffer against negative self-perceptions in an evaluative dance environment.  The purpose of this study was to explore self-compassion as a potential buffer against self-evaluative thoughts and behaviours in an evaluative ballet environment.  Participants (N = 57 women undergraduate students; Mage = 20.59 years, SD = 3.81) completed an online questionnaire containing measures of self-compassion, social physique anxiety (trait and state versions), fear of negative evaluation (trait and state versions), as well as reactions, thoughts, and emotions to a hypothetical first day of beginner ballet class scenario consistent with the common characteristics of the dance environment.  Self-compassion was negatively related (all p < .01) to trait and state social physique anxiety (r = -.67 and r = -.60, respectively), trait and state fear of negative evaluation (r = -.69 and r = -.67, respectively), total negative affect (r = -.61), personalizing thoughts (r = -.50), and catastrophizing thoughts (r = -.39), as well as positively associated with behavioural equanimity (r = .46) and thoughts of equanimity (r = .35).  The findings suggest that self-compassion could potentially buffer negative responses in beginner ballet classes perceived as being evaluative.