Ballerina Michaela DePrince says she’s always wanted to be an inspiration to young women and let them know that it’s okay to love their flaws.
It’s no secret that there’s a lot of pressure that comes along with being a performer. Not only pressure to be the best of the best, but pressure to live up to society’s beauty standards as well.
Michaela reflects on her years as a ballerina and says, “I’ve definitely felt pressure [from ballet to look a certain way]. I remember one time I was in Amsterdam before I moved there. I got the stomach flu, so I lost about 5 kilos [11 pounds]. And I came back and was accepted into a company because they liked how my body looked. But, I had no energy. Sometimes places will support even anorexia. I think it’s very sad. Our body is our job, it’s our tool to be able to dance, and we shouldn’t butcher it.”
Michaela has a condition called “vitiligo,” a condition which creates discolored patches on the skin.
She says she used to be extremely self-conscious of her spots. When she first started dancing, she asked her mother if she could see the spots from the audience. Her mom told her “no,” which wasn’t the truth. She says, “I’m really grateful she did that. That gave me the confidence to push on and to work hard.”
Now, she’s become much more accepting of her vitiligo. She states, “I don’t try to hide who I am. And that’s the most important thing: to just be who you are. Love your flaws. Love the scars, love the things that have happened to you, bad things or good things. Because those are the things that are gonna make you stronger, those are the things that are gonna make you strive.”
Michaela says when she’s feeling down, she turns to her mom or sister for support. Although she admits that she’s still not extremely confident in her body, she’s come a long way in terms of self-acceptance.
Michaela has a message she wants to send to women all over the world:
“I think beauty is flaws. Beauty can be so many different things and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the way somebody looks. I find beauty in the way somebody uses their hands when they’re dancing or the way somebody looks at you when they’re talking to you. That’s beauty to me. And beauty is just being truthful and honest.”