Trilby Beresford
July 25, 2016 4:43 pm
Instagram/Misty Copeland

There’s no denying that Misty Copeland is a ballerina badass who frequently inspires us to pursue our dreams with grace and confidence (who else launches their career at the age of 13?!).

Last year she became the first African-American dancer to be named principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theater, and we thought nothing could top that. But Copeland has now spoken about the struggles she’s endured with her own body image, and her words are nothing short of inspiring.

“I’ve had so many issues throughout my career finding the right support — even in something like finding leotards to fit a larger butt.”

Copeland goes on to talk about the isolation she felt being an African-American woman in a mostly white ballet company, and how her mentors were always there. “As an adult, Susan Fales-Hill and Victoria Rowell were two incredibly strong black women who were there at times when I had so many doubts and struggled with body image issues and being African-American in an elite company that was mostly white.”

She also discusses how the concept of a “ballerina body” has changed (for the better) in recent years.

“With the conversations that I’ve opened up, people are more open to expecting the different body types that exist. Also, if you go back to the 1930s and ‘40s you’ll see these ballerinas that had really soft physiques — they didn’t have muscles, they weren’t six-feet-ten, and had big breasts — but that changed through the ‘60s and ‘70s when ballerinas got really thin. Now people are more open to the concept that dancers come in all shapes and sizes.”

Copeland maintains an active presence on Instagram, where she inspires other women to keep pushing toward their goals, no matter what. “I want to show young women that it’s okay to be strong and to be an athlete and that it’s not just for boys. We should be seen equally and be given the same opportunities.”

We 100% agree with you, Misty!

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