7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Quitting Ballet for Not Being “Skinny Enough”

From Cosmopolitan

Frostine Shake is a burlesque dancer and artist based in Austin, Texas. From about the time she was 6 years old, Frostine was seriously practicing ballet and thought she might want to pursue it professionally. "I really enjoyed the grace of it," she told Cosmopolitan.com. "It was something I felt was going to be right for me."

But as a teenager, Frostine became aware that her body was not like those of the other girls in her classes. "I started looking around and saw that everyone else had much thinner frames than I did," she said. "I was always the heavier-set girl in the class." Feeling pressured to look a certain way but really not feeling up to changing her body, Frostine quit ballet at the age of 16.

What she didn’t know then was that at age 30, she would still be wearing her pointe shoes – and celebrated for it. Here, she offers some things she’s learned since quitting ballet for feeling like she wasn’t skinny enough.

1. That she would continue to dance. Frostine emphasizes that she is not a professional ballerina by any means, but she does regularly practice en pointe, sometimes up to three times a week. And as a burlesque dancer, she is doing exactly what she has always loved: "I love to dance, I love to dance in front of an audience, and I love to entertain people."

2. That she would incorporate ballet into her career even if she didn’t turn out to be a professional ballet dancer. "Every single one of my routines has elements of ballet," Frostine says. "They don’t necessarily have to do with the pointe shoes, but more with grace, posture, and movement."

3. That she would be able to use ballet as a form of artistic expression. As a college student, Frostine was in a "strenuous fashion design program" and found release through ballet. She would use her pointe shoes and ballet technique when posing as a model for her photographer friends. Those photos, which are now making the rounds on the internet, "speak to people on a level other than just a larger girl en pointe."

4. That the world would become more accepting of different bodies. "Another reason that I quit was that I didn’t have a lot ofprofessional support," Frostine says. "I would have told my younger self that in the future, there willbe a body-positive movement that you can be a part of. There are goingto be other girls in your classes that look like you so that you feel moreaccepted. There will be instructors who will work with you and do what they canto help you improve."

5. That she would go on to achieve so many other dreams. "I think that going forward with ballet would have been awonderful avenue; I just didn’t choose to take it," Frostine says. "[I got to] graduate from fashion school, finish beauty school, travel the world as a burlesque performer, and discover more facets about myself as an artist. My life took a different turn. Had I stayed strictly a ballet dancer, I am unsure I would have accomplished all I have."

6. That so many other women would be able to relate to her story. Frostine has heard from many women who’ve told her that they also quit at a young age because they didn’t feel like they had the right body. They tell her that they wish they had stayed with ballet. "I feel like most women have that story," she says.

7. That she would be able to look at ballet with new eyes later in life. "I want to discover myself as a dancer again and see what else is out there for me," Frostine says. "I’m confident doing it even if what I’m doing isn’t perfect. I’m still working at it and trying and just making art."

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