WATCH | This teen ballerina is challenging stereotypes about dancers' bodies

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Lizzy Howell has become a dancing inspiration to many. (Facebook/Jordan Matter Photography)
Lizzy Howell has become a dancing inspiration to many. (Facebook/Jordan Matter Photography)

Lizzy Howell started dancing at the age of six, when her mother passed away in a car accident. Now the 16-year-old lives with her aunt, who is her greatest supporter.

In January last year she shared a video of herself doing ballet and the video went viral, instantly, with over 20 million views on Facebook.

With so many people  following her on social media, some have made negative comments about her weight and Lizzy says that she was told to stop dancing when she was 12 years old.

"I was told that there wasn't gonna be any part for me in Nutcracker, if I didn't lose weight or go on point. That bothered me because this was something I wanted to do forever," she has said. 

"If I am a good dancer, I don't think my body type should affect my opportunities," said Lizzy.

A role model 

What people don't know is that Lizzy has pseudotumor cerebri, which is an excess build-up of spinal fluid around her brain, and she could go blind if it isn't kept under control.

Dance is what has kept her going through all of her tough experiences, like being bullied, she says.

Lizzy recalls one incident where a girl deliberately stepped on her with a tap shoe at a convention with more than 300 dancers watching.

"It bothered me so much that I did not audition that day, but the day after. Even though that happened, I got the scholarship."

She says that what keeps her motivated is her aunt, and the people who keep reassuring her that she is good, people who think that she is a role model and who message her on social media to tell her that she inspires them.

"People can relate to me"

"Because most dancers are skinny, and I am not, I think people can relate to me in that sort of way. People see me as their inspiration because I've been told to quit dancing multiple times, but I did not," she said.

Lizzy says that dancing cheers her up or make her happier, that dancing is like therapy to her. She is a living testimony that if you love what you do, you should not let people get in the way of that.

Watch the video below, compiled by Jordan Matter Photography: 

Compiled for Parent24 by Athenkosi Mndende

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