Dance fanatic and actress in training Kianna, 15, is our youngest Be Real Ambassador and is flying the flag for all the young people who are still in the midst of learning to feel confident in their bodies.
A self-described typical teenager, Kianna loves to dance, sing, act and generally loves life. Being a size 14-16, she has experienced her fair share of negative comments but has not let that stop her from following her dreams.
“I am one of the lucky ones that have not let all the negative comments and pressures get to me. Every dance class I have taken, every dance exam, audition, sports event I have taken part in, I have been judged before I even have stepped into the room, on to the stage or on to the track.
“I have physically felt not just sensed, the rejection, before I have even begun due to my size. I have to be better than everyone to be judged equally and constantly have to prove myself beyond others. It is only then that people begin to notice me for me and what I can do, not what I look like.
“Although I’m always holding my head up high and not letting this get to me, I did struggle with my body confidence at the end of primary school, when I was around 10 years old. I remember during dance classes my teacher would ask us to dance just in our leotards. I wasn’t comfortable with taking my top off in front of the rest of the class who were all significantly smaller than me and had a ‘typical’ dancer’s body. I was worried I would be stared at and laughed at.
“It’s really difficult sometimes to deal with how judgemental people are when you don’t ‘fit’ in. Comments in the street as you walk past, being criticised for being the largest child on stage, songs made up about you in school about obesity. Having to constantly fight to be recognised for who I am not what size I am.
“I just came to a point where I had enough and that I shouldn’t be bothered about what other people thought of me because I was me and I was never going to change for anyone.
“I took the negativity as a challenge and was determined to prove them all wrong. I worked harder, strived harder to succeed. I refused to let anything or anybody hold me back. A dance teacher once told me I would never pass Grade 3 ballet. I can proudly say I am now studying grade 5 and en pointe. Who cared what I look like in a leotard anyway.
“I think it’s really important that we break the barrier in society that you have to be skinny to be normal, and that anything else is ugly, unfit and unhealthy. We need to recondition people’s perception of others that there is no right or wrong body.
“As a teenager, I know how important it is that we work with younger children through schools and local youth organisations so that no child enters secondary school or beyond feeling self-conscious about their body and the way they look. Children are the adults of the future, what we can teach them now they will carry into adulthood and pass down to their own children in the future.”
Do you feel inspired by Kianna? Find out how you can become a Be Real Ambassador.