Young Ballerina Fearlessly Defies 'Dancer Body' Stereotypes — It's Exceptional To Watch

Nov 22, 2020 by apost team

Ballet as a form of dance and art originated during the Italian Renaissance. While contemporary ballet has progressed and developed into something more modern—modern dancewear, music, and dance moves—the notion of what a ballerina looks like has never changed.

Until now. Meet 19-year-old Lizzy Howell from Delaware. She is a ballerina who does not conform to the usual stereotype of a ballet dancer, and she's proud of it too.

Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-)

Lizzy started ballet dancing when she was just six years old after she lost her mum in a tragic car accident. She was brought up by her aunt, who has always been one of her biggest supporters. From her difficult start in life to being diagnosed with a medical condition, it is clear that Lizzy is a fighter. Her determination and perseverance are what have seen her make it in the ballet world.

When Lizzy was 15 years old, she posted a video of herself doing a type of pirouette called a fouetté on her social media. What started out as an innocent snippet from her ballet class, ended up becoming a viral sensation with over 20 million views on Facebook, reports News24. She now has a massive following on her Instagram!

When Lizzy was younger, she was told by one of her ballet teachers that in order to get the parts she wanted, she would need to lose weight, she revealed in a recent interview. There is a lot of talk around the health of ballet dancers—the industry is riddled with weight struggles and eating disorders. An article from the BBC highlights the health risks the profession carries due to competitiveness and body shape.

Lizzy has not been immune to bullying due to her size. A scroll through her social media accounts will show both encouraging and disparaging comments. Lizzy rises above these negative comments though, as the positive impact she has on young people who don't conform to stereotypes feeling like they can follow their own dreams far outweighs the trolls. Despite this, Lizzy is no stranger to panic attacks and anxiety, reports Escxtra.

According to BuzzFeed, dancing helps Lizzy manage the anxiety she experiences from her pseudotumor cerebri, a condition that causes excess fluid around the brain. She is now an ambassador for Dancing for You, a disability awareness campaign. 

"There's been some people who have told me to choose a different career path, and I've thought about quitting multiple times. Then I had to think, should I let these people stop me from doing what I love," Lizzy said.

So what does Lizzy think about her fame and status as an advocate for plus-size dancers? Speaking to Teen Vogue Lizzy explained she doesn't think diversity in dancing should be such a big deal. This is because if you want to dance, you can dance, and it's as simple as that.

"It feels good to represent the diversity in dance. But there shouldn't need to be diversity. We should all be equal," she said. She also reaffirmed this in an interview with BuzzFeed, saying: "If I can do everything that anyone else can, why should I be in a separate category?"

She rejects the idea of 'plus-sized' dancers and doesn't wish to be classified as such. She believes that people who dance are dancers, and there is no need to identify which type or put labels on it. This goes for all other professions and hobbies, not just dance. People don't need special categories to do what they love.

Her story has touched the lives of many who feel underrepresented. This is why she was chosen to dance on stage for Bilal Hassani's Eurovision 2019 performance in Tel Aviv, Israel. The French singer and social media star performed center stage in front of a backdrop of quotes he had made in response to criticism he has faced for just being who he is.

His message is clear, we need to be a more tolerant and accepting society, and the bullying, in whatever form, needs to end. The song ends with the line 'We are all kings/queens', and this is exactly what Lizzy stands for too.

Through the years Lizzy has also undergone a personal journey that has helped her become confident and comfortable in her own skin. In one Instagram post Lizzy captioned: 

"i started doing solos 3 years ago, before i had followers on instagram. i started because my old studio wouldn’t let me do one, and i wanted to prove them wrong. that was my first mistake. i’ve always felt like i needed to prove myself to people from a young age, and i directly relate that to the fact that people believed i wasn’t a good dancer because of my weight... but i’m slowly realizing i don’t have to prove myself to anyone anymore."

Her message is clear: when we love ourselves unconditionally, we can overcome any hurdle in our path.

Has Lizzy's story inspired you to do something you didn't think was possible? Let us know below and use this positive energy to bring light to your day.

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