Pliés in the Park: The Story of a Body Positive Ballerina
LeenahLovesHerself - that’s what 20-year-old Colleen (AKA Leenah) calls herself on Instagram and what her almost 10k followers know her by!
We sat with Leenah in Madison Square Park in NYC where she talked about struggles she’s faced with body image, her journey to face those struggles, and how dance has impacted that journey. Get ready to be INSPIRED!
Leenah started her LeenahLovesHerself account about eight months ago when she decided she wanted to launch a BoPo Instagram. Initially, her goal with starting the account was to be a positive voice in the dancing community, but the outcome has become a lot more personal to her.
“As my account has progress," she told us, "it has become very therapeutic. Because I’m so open on the account, it helps me be more open and transparent in my own life.”
Leenah has always known her passion for ballet, but when she was sixteen, she knew that she wanted to actively pursue dance. She soon realized that with her love for ballet also came emotional struggle.
“I’ve struggled with body images since I was a little girl. When I started getting more serious about dance, I noticed that my body was different than most of the other girls. You’re staring at yourself in the mirror for hours on end. I was convinced that if I had the perfect body I would be a better dancer.”
With a lot of self-reflection, Leenah decided to ignore the underlying body standards in the dance world and focus on loving her body and what it could do while she was performing. She wants to spread that love to the whole dancing community through her account.
“It’s a norm in the dance world to want to change your body and hate your body. I want people to start talking about it, because right now it’s just the elephant in the room.”
So that's exactly what Leenah did - she opened the conversation. The impact has been incredible on the dancing community, especially to young girls. To continue the conversation, we asked Leenah - what is your favorite part of your body?
She said, “I always hated my big thighs, but now I know that my legs are strong and do some really awesome things for dance.”
Leenah's story is one of emotional transformation, self-love, and compassion for others. It will inspire women everywhere to stop focusing on their "imperfections" and to especially not compare themselves to others. Although we all go through phases of less confidence, it’s important to remember that being confident and loving your body is a CHOICE!
Thank you, Leenah! Follow her @LeenahLovesHerself