American Ballet Theatre dancer Misty Copeland is sharing her story in a new memoir, entitled Ballerina Body, and the tell-all book focuses on Copeland’s struggles to obtain and maintain her ideal weight. Ballerina Body explores Copeland’s struggle with perspectives on her physical changes, as well as how weight gain contributed to compromised mental and emotional states. Misty, like anyone familiar with weight control issues, discovered just how deeply a physical condition can affect one’s psyche and Ballerina Body lays out that frustrating journey with the frank honesty for which Misty Copeland has become known.
Ballerina Body Reveals A Misty Copeland Fans May Not Recognize
Today, Misty Copeland is as admired for her finely toned physique as she is for her talented ballet performances, but, as People shares, neither aspect of Copeland’s dreams was easy to come by. In fact, Misty reveals that her body had maturity issues that prevented her from reaching the level she needed to achieve in her dancing lessons. Put simply, Copeland’s body still hadn’t hit puberty by age 19 and it was becoming a concern for her doctor, who urged her to begin taking birth control pills to jump-start the process.
As most people do, Copeland took her doctor’s advice and the treatment did work, but it came at a price. Misty says she gained 10 pounds as soon as she started the birth control medication, which threw her entire life into a turmoil. Up until that point, Misty describes her body as “ideal” for ballet dancing, so gaining that weight left Ms. Copeland feeling as though she had completely lost control over her own body.
“It was very difficult to be experiencing so late in the game, when I was already a professional dancer, to understand and kind of reassess how to take care of myself and how to approach what I do from a different point of view,” says Misty.
Ms. Copeland goes on to say that gaining that much weight so suddenly was unhealthy for her physical being, but also deeply affected her mental and emotional states. The American Ballet Theatre dancer says the side effects of taking birth control took her by surprise and, while she understands why her doctor recommended it, the weight gain really threw her off her game.
What came afterward was even more exasperating for Copeland, because she was continuously told she needed to lose the weight she had gained, even amid her attempts to do so. Eventually, she took comfort in advice from her doctors and nurses, who instructed her on the best ways to achieve her body image goals.
“I think that all we can do as humans is be our best self,” Misty says.
“And for me, I just feel like it has nothing to do with me — it has everything to do with the person who’s doing the criticizing.”
Does Misty Copeland Offer False Hope In Ballerina Body?
As The Washington Post reveals, Ballerina Body does more than just tell Misty’s story in memoir fashion. The book is truly a tell-all, as it also offers the ballet dancer’s personal guide to obtaining the ultimate dancer’s physique, but is it too much for the average person to hope for? Even Misty herself cautions readers not to hold her body up as a comparison to their own best body image.
“Rather than comparing yourself to photographs, the only visage you need to focus on is the one that stares back at you from your own mirror,” writes Ms. Copeland.
Yet, everything else about Ballerina Body seems to suggest otherwise, including images of Copeland in sports bra and spandex shorts. Even the memoir’s subtitle, “Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You,” suggests that by simply following the steps laid out in this tell-all book turned self-help guide will inevitably lead one to obtain the perfect dancer’s body. After all, isn’t that the point?
In the end, Ballerina Body is similar to many fitness books in that it promises a seemingly impossible ideal to work towards with the implied message that, if the reader fails, it’s simply due to a lack of effort. You just didn’t work hard enough.
Even Misty admits that achieving the goal of her own physique was not an easy task, wrought with obstacles, injuries, and body-shamers. Certainly, employing Copeland’s exercises in one’s daily routine will reap benefits in the long run, but obtaining a ballerina body, as Misty’s book seems to promise, requires a level of commitment and determination few people possess.
[Featured Image by John Lamparski/Getty Images]