I remember attending dance class one week without a care in the world, just loving it for it what it was... but then what happened next I will never forget.
I was in a ballet class, the week before I was laughing and playing, but this week something had changed... my eyes had been opened and staring in mirror right back at me was... myself. I was short, curvy, and even thick. As my eyes broke from their distain and tracked around the room I noticed each of my classmates. They were skinnier, taller, and had perfect little buns on their perfect little ballerina heads a top their perfect little ballerina bodies, my eyes tracked back to myself... I was not a 'perfect' little ballerina.
Leaving class disheartened, not knowing what to, I went home to practice, practice being a better me. I started working out more, okay a lot more, and I started eating less. I slimmed down and even dropped a
size but it wasn’t enough for me. Seeking the beauty I saw in my class mates was truly an unachievable
dream. I started looking at pictures of dancers on the internet and longing to see their reflection upon mine when I looked in the mirror. Seeing toned abs and strong arms, thin but muscular legs, I pushed my workout session to the next level. Pushing my body to do more crunches, more sit ups, and more push ups just to get that body I wanted. Being completely honest with you there were days I worked out so much and so hard that I got light-headed during my practices. I took up mountain biking in hopes that the ‘fat’ I saw would just fall off. But I tell you my end result was the same… no matter how much muscle I gained, or weight I lost, or sizes I dropped I came to class every week in my leotard and tights and saw something, that someone had, that was better than mine.
I started getting discouraged… I started forming abs and muscle but it was never
enough. I was never going to look like the posters of prima ballerinas so why should I try? I thought about hanging my dance shoes up for good. I would never be ‘one of them’ so why should I spend all this time training to look like them when I wasn’t going to. I remember tears rolling down my cheek onto my pillow at night dampening where I slept… I slept in the bed I had made, the bed where I gave up what I loved because I didn’t fit a mold. I was going to keep my commitment to the studio through the rest of the semester then I was going to hang up my dance shoes for good.
For those of you that have met me, know that this isn’t the case, I use my dance shoes on a daily bases, so
you may ask what changed? I owe my dancing career to one of my childhood heroes, Cheryl Burke. Some of you may know her as a competitive Ballroom champion but most of you probably know her from her many seasons of Dancing with the Stars. We all have teenage idols, well she was mine. I wanted to be her, look like her, move like her, have her life. I cut my hair to look like hers and started using all the products she did just so I could be like her. Well one day I came across an interview she did with a magazine. The beginning of the article featured a photograph of her in a bikini walking along the beach during her summer abroad. Another magazine had recently featured this same photograph and had an article body shaming her in her bikini. The interview began by Cheryl saying, “it is true” this isn’t the most flattering picture of herself by any
stretch of the imagination and ultimately it is true what the original article had said. She had gained weight over the summer, (10 pounds) she was on vacation and had been eating like she was. Cheryl continued in the article saying that dancing had always been something that came hard for her mentally because she didn’t look like all the other ballerinas in her classes. Cheryl had always been ‘curvier’ then the general dancer. As the article continued she mentioned that this is how she was made, she had hips, had broader shoulder, had curves, but these things didn’t make her bad or even fat. Granted she was never going to look like some of the other competitors on Dancing With the Stars that were size zeros or double zeros because of the way her body structure was made. The end of the article I will never forget, Cheryl ended her interview by saying that she will not let magazines, photographers, the television, or media of any kind shame me to the place where I think I need to become unhealthy (bulimic or anorexic) to achieve the kind of body some other person thinks I should have. I enjoy foods and the tastes of many cultures and will not sacrifice that so I can fit their idea of what I should look like because it doesn’t matter how thin you are they always will find something that doesn’t look right.
Always finding something that doesn’t look right… we all have those! I bet you can list at least 5 things right now while I am typing this sentence that aren’t ‘right’ about you. But here’s the thing, those are all a part of you, who you are! Maybe it doesn’t fit the persona that someone, even you, think it should, but it is still you. I am a beautiful, young, dancer that doesn’t look like a ‘normal’ ballerina but I love dance just the same. I am so passionate about it with my curves or without them, being my height or if I was the height I thought I should have been, at the weight I was in high school, the weight I am now, or the weight I am going to be. You see, Dancing is a passion, and passion comes from your heart, soul, and mind… and those have nothing to do with a stereo-typical body type.
Here is a link to another story a lot like this one. Here what Sharna Burgess has to say about "Body Shaming"! By the Way ~ I personally Sharna she is an amazing person on the inside as well as the outside!