Who: Lizzy Howell from Milford, Delaware
Why we chose her: If we saw 15-year-old Lizzy Howell’s performance in her production of The Nutcracker, we’d give her a standing ovation—but not just for her technique (which she nails in all her Instagram videos!). We’d be on our feet shedding some tears and cheering for Lizzy because of the confidence she projects, and how that confidence is encouraging others like her to pursue their dreams.
Lizzy, who’s been dancing since the age of five, represents a body size atypical from the average body of a ballerina. In the past, she faced criticism about her weight from her teachers, and even had to find a new studio where she could get the parts she was trained for.
“My previous dance teacher would tell me that unless I lost weight, I would have the same roles in the Nutcracker for the rest of my life, because the costumes wouldn’t fit me,” Lizzy told People. “At my current studio, they work with me, to give me a part I can not only handle, but that they can make a costume for.”
These days, training four nights a week isn’t uncommon for Lizzy: “I enjoy the emotional release it gives me. If I had a good day, I go to dance. If I had a bad day, I go to dance.”
Since posting this video back in November, hordes of other dancers have voiced their support and even related their own experiences about facing hardship because of their non-traditional dance bodies. But Howell raises a legit point: Why use the term “plus size” to describe her and dancers like her? The way she sees it, if she can do everything all of her fellow dancers can do, why apply the label?
“I like being a role model to others, especially to younger girls struggling to find themselves.” Lizzy, you’re an inspiration not only to us, but to your fellow dancers around the world. Keep on dancing!
Fun fact: Lizzy, who has pseudotumor cerebri (this is when the pressure inside your skull increases for no obvious reason), has recently been named an ambassador for Dancing for You, an awareness campaign for dancers with disabilities.
Rockette kicks (on a scale of 10 to 10!):