I’ve watched many documentaries and films on ballerinas, and more specifically Misty Copeland, who has paved the way for African-American dancers to believe they too can become a world-renown Principal ballerina. So when I read her interview with New York Magazine today, my crush on Misty grew even larger because of her ability to speak openly about diversity, race, and fitness.
When speaking on the biggest support in her life, Copeland said, “I’ve struggled with body-image issues and finding a way to fit in and create a new path for the typical body type of a ballerina. I’ve had so many issues throughout my career finding the right support — even in something like finding leotards to fit a larger butt. But beyond the physical, I’ve had incredible mentors throughout my career that have gotten me to this place.”
She went on to note her various mentors that not only gave her the proper training, but also the confidence to believe that she was good enough even when she had doubts, and struggled with feeling good about her body in the midst of an all white ballet company.
And when Copeland was asked how race mixes in with such a complex industry as ballet she said, “When it comes to race — and that’s something that I’m very open about — a lot of the language that’s used is filled with hidden innuendos to what these people are trying to say. When they tell African-American and minority dancers that they don’t have the right body type, a lot of that is a way of saying that the color of your skin doesn’t allow you to fit in.”
Even if you don’t care about ballet, there’s no question that Misty is an incredible role model for women and has changed the thinking behind what a certain body aesthetic should look like.