Misty Copeland: Accepting Her Body And Breaking Barriers
Beautiful ballerina, Misty Copeland made history with the American Ballet Theatre as their first Black principal dancer. The American Ballet Theatre has been around for 75 years and this is the company’s highest honor.
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Before this well-deserved promotion, the 37-year-old ballerina was only the third African-American woman to ever achieve the rank of soloist in the American Ballet Theater company’s history. She is also the first ever ballerina to be endorsed by the fitness clothing company Under Armour, has danced for the likes of Prince and other music royalty and now, with the release of her memoir, Life in Motion, she’s also an author.
But it wasn’t always glitz and glamour for the ballerina. There were so many who told her “no” or tried to derail her from her passion. Some even said that her attributes, being “curvy AND Black” would go against her in the world of ballet. That led to being unsure about herself and her body.
Copeland is not built like a ‘typical’ ballerina. She is shorter, more busty and — like her counterparts Serena Williams in tennis and Simone Biles in gymnastics — visibly muscular.
“As an adult, I was told that I didn’t have the right skin color… I was too muscular. I was too curvy. My breasts were too big. I was too short.” — Misty Copeland
Copeland is a true departure from the traditional image of a ballet dancer as fair-skinned, tall and lithe, so she carved her own path.
“Being a woman in general it’s hard to be completely comfortable and confident with how you look,” explained Copeland. “Especially in an art form like this when it is about your physicality and what you look like. It’s difficult being critiqued and judged on that basis.”
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But it wasn’t until she accepted who she was as a woman, a Black woman, that allowed her to go to new heights.
“I had a breakthrough with accepting my body,” confessed Copeland. “I surrounded myself with other women who looked like me and who were successful – other successful black women. Even though they weren’t in my field, having that motivation helped me to come to terms and accept myself.”
In a recent interview with the LA Times, Misty described how she stayed focused no matter what the distraction is:
“Just the way ballet is so beautifully structured it ingrains this commitment into you. There’s so much happening and so much you’re trying to understand, and something that’s so beautiful about a dance class is that you don’t feel like you’re…