Misty Copeland Battles Back After Being Told to 'Lose Weight'

Misty Copeland is refusing to allow the haters and body-shamers to win.

Copeland was named American Ballet Theatre's first ever African-American principal dancer, won the role of Clara in The Nutcracker, and married her boyfriend, all in 2016, PEOPLE reports.

But despite all of her success, the incredible athlete was shaken when she was asked to lose weight because her body didn't look like all the other ballerinas.

"I'm not trying to change classical ballet. I love everything about it. But we have to show that we're athletes," Copeland passionately explained. "We're putting in the same amount of work; we have the same muscles."

The dancer's athletic frame showcases the hard work and dedication that she has put into her craft and has allowed her to have so much well-earned success.

"I didn't go through puberty until I was 19, and I was already a professional. So everyone's expecting your body, as your instrument, to look a certain way."

"Being told to lose weight, and being African American, not having anyone else around who looked like me, caused me so much doubt."

Allowing the commentary on her look to distract her from her work isn't something Copeland is willing to do.

"I feel like I'm representing not just the little brown girls but all African-American dancers who have come before me who were never promoted because of the color of their skin," she says.

"I want to show the ballet world it's possible to do all these things and not be rail-thin or have blonde hair."