When I was five years old I wanted to be a ballerina, so my mom signed me up for dance. Over the next ten years, I explored all three styles: tap, jazz, and ballet. Tap ended up being my favorite, and I studied it for ten years, ballet for four, and jazz for one.
The years I took ballet, I was told to grow my bangs out, to wear my hair in a bun because that's what ballerinas do. When I ate my snacks from the convenience store because that's what my single mom bought me after school on her way to drop me off at the studio, I was ridiculed and told if I lost just a few pounds, I'd be the perfect size for a ballerina. I was in elementary school. Looking back at those pictures, I wasn't fat. Not even close. After my entire class was promoted to pointe and I wasn't, I quit ballet.
While this story is fiction, there is a lot of me in Claire, but it only takes a few minutes to read the trending headlines to see that this happens to a widespread audience every day. I think there is a lot of every girl in Claire.
Do you like every part of yourself when you look in the mirror? Or did someone, society, make you feel if you lost just a little bit more weight or changed a small part of who you were, you'd be better in their eyes? And then after so long you found you didn't like the person you saw through your own eyes, didn't even recognize her?
Maybe it's just me, but I don't think so.
When I started this book, that's not the message I'd hoped to spread or share, but that's what it ended up being. Like all of my other books, Claire's story was cathartic for me because it helped me release a part of my past I didn't realize I'd been hanging onto so tightly. As much as I loved dance, those years in the studio damaged me. But on the contrary, each day in the studio, each mean girl, each hurtful comment, they took an oyster and produced a pearl. A one-of-a-kind, oddly shaped, uniquely colored, and beautiful pearl.
Every day since writing Heartfall I've tried so hard to look in the mirror and find something I like about myself or to ignore something I'd ordinarily criticize, and I challenge you to do the same.
We're all beautiful and strong women. This is Claire's story on finding her beauty and strength. Along the way, she's blessed to find incredible love too. I hope you enjoy it.
YOU ARE READING
Claire Ross has never been good enough. Not for the girls in the elite group of dancers in her class and certainly not for the approval of her ballet teacher, Mr. Robins. She definitely doesn't like what she sees in the mirror. Simply put, she doesn...