Misty Copeland has been a pioneer for body positivity—specifically for ballerinas—since she began dancing at 13. And while there have been several other advocates who have helped back her up over the years, her most recent project has declared the debate officially over.
In her new book, Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You, the 34-year-old dance superstar says it’s not muscle definition or toe-pointed-ness that makes you a ballerina—it’s all about your mindset.
“It’s about taking this healthy journey and discovering what works for you and creating your own version of a healthy ballerina body.”
“Ballet has such a beautiful discipline and structure, and I want to motivate people to think of their lives as a long journey with this mindset. It’s not a dieting book, it’s not a shortcut to become a ballerina overnight,” she explains. “It’s about taking this healthy journey and discovering what works for you and creating your own version of a healthy ballerina body.”
And where many celebrated performers’ books begin with a chapter on nutrition or exercise, Copeland kicks off Ballerina Body with a section on mental strength—a skill she’s worked on her entire life.
In an interview with CBS This Morning, she brings up the fact that she’s been underestimated throughout her career—by people who said she was too brown, she was too old, and she didn’t have the body of a classic ballerina.
And yet, her perseverance and intense work ethic not only helped her stay strong—they also helped her make history as the first African-American woman to be named principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater. (Take that, haters.)