Ballerina Says She Was Body-Shamed, Asked if She Should Dance in New York City Ballet After Gaining 10 Pounds

Ashley Bouder, a principal dancer with the esteemed New York City Ballet, breaks down in tears recalling how she says she was treated after gaining 10 pounds.

A principal dancer with the esteemed New York City Ballet breaks down in tears recalling how she lost her role in a recent company performance due to her weight.

Ashley Bouder, 38, recalls the heartbreak she felt when she says she got a knock on her dressing room door just hours before the annual NYCB Fall Gala.

"It was explained to me that the costume accentuated my problem areas, and that it was up to me whether I danced or not that night," Bouder tells Inside Edition's Ann Mercogliano. "But it seemed pretty clear that the powers-that-be thought I shouldn't be out there."

Bouder then found herself sitting in the audience, fighting back tears while sitting with her biggest fan. "I watched another ballerina dance in my place, while I sat next to my daughter," Bouder says. 

The alleged bullying started long before the night of the Fall Gala, Bouder says. She had spent most of the previous season sidelined with an injury, and there were constant reminders of her 10-pound weight gain when she returned to work.

"I saw how others, you know, covertly looked me up and down, like I didn't know my body was different," Bouder says. "It became really hard to take company class, so I didn't and did my own warm-ups, and I only showed up to my scheduled rehearsals. I wore baggy pants and shirts. I just felt like I was being judged all the time."

The dancer is now trying to use this difficult experience to start a dialogue about the prevalence of body-shaming in the ballet world, and using her platform to encourage other women to share their stories.

"I think we don't talk about body-shaming experiences because they're embarrassing," Bouder says in a post she shared on social media. "Today, I'm really trying to step beyond my embarrassment and into courage."

Bouder joined the NYCB while still in high school. She rose through the ranks to principal dancer by the age of just 19, and has appeared in dozens of productions, including  "The Nutcracker."

"I can dance the Sugar Plum Fairy," Bouder explains. "And I don't look like I did three years ago, and I just wish that wasn't a big deal."

Bouder's body may be slightly different, but her technique is still immaculate. So immaculate in fact that in 2019 she became just the third American ballerina to win the prestigious Prix Benois de la Danse in Moscow. 

There is some good news for Bouder after all this, however, as the Goh Ballet recently announced that she will be appearing as the Sugar Plum Fairy in a Vancouver production of "The Nutcracker" later this month.

As for Bouder, she has no plans to stop dancing anytime soon.

The New York City Ballet responded to Bouder's comments by saying: "The health and safety of our dancers is our number one priority."

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