Even professional ballerina Misty Copeland has been told to lose weight.

Even professional ballerina Misty Copeland has been told to lose weight.
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Misty Copeland, the first African-American principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, opened up to Self about being told that she had to lose weight in order to fit into the ballet world.

Copeland said that the American Ballet Theatre asked her to lose weight in her teens (they used the word "lengthen" in lieu of "drop the pounds"), which resulted in an eventual eating disorder. "Being told to lose weight, and being African-American, not having anyone else around who looked like me, caused me so much doubt," says Copeland. In a 2014 interview, Copeland said that at the time she only weighed 108 pounds at the time.

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Copeland also notes that she has struggled to accept her body because she didn't hit puberty until she was 19 years old (which is common for athletes), at which point she was already working professionally. Dealing with changes to her body at the late stage was difficult, especially because her body was literally responsible for paying the bills.

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Eventually Misty fell into healthy eating habits, noshing on fish and veggies over binging on donuts, and saw that that her improved diet resulted in more energy and better dancing. Although she didn't shed any pounds, the ABT stopped pushing her to lose weight because they were so happy with her improved performance. "You can't change your body to become something it isn't," she confesses, adding "I eat what I enjoy, just not too much of it."

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Copeland notes that a lack diversity in the ballet world doesn't just apply to skin color, but to body shapes and sizes as well. Copeland's figure is different than the typical ballerina, but she is using her platform as a way to show all girls that they can make a space for themselves in whatever profession they love by loving themselves.

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