A 15-year-old ballerina is going viral for smashing stereotypes, with some calling her an inspiration and others saying she’s a role model for body confidence.
Fox 29 reported that Lizzy Howell, who has a medical condition that requires regular spinal taps and medication, gained internet fame after posting a video of herself twirling on Instagram in November. About 215,000 people had viewed the video as of Thursday morning.
Howell’s mother died when she was in preschool, and ever since the loss and her medical condition, which involves excess fluid around the brain, came to light, she has used dancing as a positive outlet in her life.
“It’s an emotional release, so if I have a good day, I go to dance, and if I have a bad day, I go to dance,” Howell, who lives in the Philadelphia area, told the news station.
Howell practices at least two hours daily, Monday through Thursday, in addition to attending weekend rehearsals. She also does tap, jazz, contemporary and a variation class. Tap is her favorite.
Because she has been dancing for 10 years, the new attention “doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.” And as she’s dealt with her newfound fame, she’s learned to brush off the haters who have criticized her plus-size figure, along with her numerous supporters, on Instagram.
“I laugh most of them off,” she told Fox 29. “We had one that said, ‘And kids, this is how hurricanes are formed, so we laughed, and then we realized he meant tornadoes and not hurricanes, so we responded back and said, ‘Don’t you mean tornadoes?’ So it wasn’t that bad.”
“Some of ’em I just delete,” she added, “[like] the ones that say get cancer … but the funny ones I respond to.”
When she grows up, Howell wants to be either a professional dancer on Broadway or a forensic scientist who teaches dance classes.
In the viral video, she was in a younger girls’ class showing them how to do a fouette turn.
“They were just learning to do them,” she told Fox 29.
In the video, she does 11 turns, but she can do more, she said.
“On a good day, I can do 32 without stopping,” Howell told the news station.
Since posting the video, Howell has racked up more than 65,000 followers.