Have you ever heard of the stereotype of a “dancer’s body”? What can dancers do to continue their passion without falling prey to the harmful diet culture that is present within the dancing industry? Are you a fellow dancer looking for a safe space and a community to be part of? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about dancers beyond labels with Anya Kleinman and Kendyll Morandi.


Kendyll and Anya are two high school students. They are recovering from eating issues. They decided to start an organization dedicated to the creation of a more accepting and positive dance community. Through their organization, they are creating a network of studios. By joining their network, these studios are committed to prioritizing the physical and mental health of their dancers. Once they receive tax-exemption status, they will also start fundraising for ED treatment centers across the country.

Visit their Dancers Beyond Labels and connect on Instagram.


  • Body image in the dance industry
  • Media is not innocent
  • Getting into recovery

Body image in the dance industry

When you dance professionally, your body is one of the main centerpieces of your work.
[With] dance, your body is your instrument and so you are very open to criticism and that involves what you eat, how much you work out, what you look like, and I think that manifested a lot of eating issues. (Kendyll Morandi)
Both Kendyll and Anya are friends and dancers in the same school, and they realized that they both struggled with similar issues. They knew that if they both struggled with these problems that there would probably be others too.
We decided to create “Dancers Beyond Labels” which is our organization [because] we wanted to create a safe space for dancers. A community where people could come and would be welcomed with open arms and they could help other dancers. (Anya Kleinman)

Media is not innocent

Social media is based on interaction and clicks, and nowadays, social media content creators will do anything to get interaction from viewers. These include Photoshop and changing things to get people’s attention, get them focused, and choose to follow the page or click on the link. Even if you don’t think it is impacting you, it is. What you see daily is what comes to stick in your mind and influence your worldview.
When I was deep in my eating disorder behaviors I had these editing apps, all these recommendations on YouTube for “Hourglass figure workouts” … no matter how far I’ve come now, those recommendations are still popping up because of the algorithm of social media. (Kendyll Morandi)
Social media can be positive or negative. The algorithm will give you more of what you look at and what you look at is based on your mindset. The deeper that you are in ED, the more the content that you look at will reflect what you feel.

Getting into recovery

Through their work, Kendyll and Anya want to help other dancers and people that struggle with eating disorders and want to get into recovery. It was partly what inspired their work to create this company because they had known the struggle and wanted to help others too by creating a shared, safe space.
We want to make sure that every dancer out there knows that they’re not alone. I think having an eating disorder or eating issues is a very isolating experience and so we want to make sure that dancers know that there are resources out there for them and that there are people that resonate with their experiences and empathize with their experiences. (Anya Kleinman)



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "Hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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