How Misty Copeland coped with body shaming through puberty

After a star turn in Sydney for the Australian Ballet, dancer Misty Copeland has opened up about how she coped with being body shamed by her bosses when she hit puberty as a 19-year-old.

Copeland, now 35, has re-written the rule book for dancers over the years, so having her body change so suddenly on the eve of her 20s was just another hurdle she jet??-d over.

"I was 19 when I went through puberty," she told Fairfax Media.

"I think it's important to have people around you who are going to be there that can understand what you've been through and give you guidance. I didn't have that. I was in New York on my own and you're all a sudden an adult who has a company telling you you need to lose weight."

She quickly gained almost five kilograms after doctors advised her to start taking birth control to kickstart the puberty process, advice she took to protect her bones that were coming under intense pressure due to her daily training and dancing practice.

"To put on 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in a matter of months was unhealthy for my body as well as my emotional state," she said.

"It's so difficult as a young woman, period, just to all of a sudden have your body change and as a dancer and athlete when this is your vessel then all of a sudden it's unfamiliar.

"I think it took a long time for me to accept that I'm never going to be that 13-year-old body again, my body has changed, I'm never going to go back there so what do I do with this body now, how do I take care of it, nourish it and make it as healthy as possible?

"It took me nearly a year to grasp that idea but I think it's just important for us to embrace who we are now and make that body the healthiest we can."

Copeland has not had a conventional career and throughout her rise she has helped shake up of the classical dance scene, a world she entered when she took to the barre at the age of 13 (geriatric in ballerina years) and began dancing en pointe by 15.

In 2015 after being with the American Ballet Theatre for 15 years she was promoted to principal dancer, the first African-American women to take the role in the company's 75-year history.

She has since parlayed her success as an "athlete" on stage into a number of lucrative side-hustles.

As well as being a "face" of Estee Lauder, having her own Barbie and touring down under for a critically-acclaimed turn as Aurora in the Australian Ballet's performance of Sleeping Beauty, Copeland is also in Australia to promote her new activewear range for Under Armour - a capsule collection she co-designed with the label she has been ambassador of for several years.

When she's not in tutu she enjoys spending her days in high-waisted tights.

"I went through a Britney Spears phase when I was wearing really ridiculous low-riders and now I'm just all about the beautiful proportion you get when you wear that high-waisted look and show just a little bit," she said.

This story How Misty Copeland coped with body shaming through puberty first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.