Lacey Schwimmer has heard it all. While the seasoned dancer was busy ranking high on So You Think You Can Dance and frolicking with celebrities on Dancing with the Stars, the body issues and criticism didn't stop. Still, Lacey held her head high. It's all too perfect that on tonight's episode of My Big Fat Revenge, we meet a woman named Veata who gave up dancing entirely after a teacher told her she was too overweight. Lacey, who is also a dance teacher, will help enact revenge on Veata's behalf! We spoke to Lacey about Veata's story, about body issues in the dancer world, and why dancers of all shapes and sizes shouldn't be afraid to express themselves.
What interested you in MBFR?
The show was brought to my attention, and as I learned more and more about the premise of the episode, I said “yes, absolutely.” Growing up as a dancer, you go through a lot of criticism, so I understand where the dancer is coming from. I understand where the teacher is coming from, too. I live so closely to this world and have been there since I was born. So it was a unique opportunity.
You have had body issues in the past, correct? Can you tell me about what happened and what you’ve gone through?
Well, every dancer in the world is taught to be picture perfect, and body image goes hand in hand with that. I’ve been bullied and criticized, for my weight and everything and it’s a very typical. I do not have a perfect dancer body. I think there’s a stereotype of what people think is correct.
How would you tell teachers to handle Veata’s situation?
I’ve taught since I was 13 years old. One thing you have to do with children is build their confidence first. Whether they’re overweight, underweight, too short, too tall -- find a way to work with them rather than pointing out their flaws and telling them they’re worthless. Teachers should teach positively. The teacher was so negative that it actually counteracted everything she was trying to teach. You don’t have to be negative to get results out of a dancer. You don’t have to be negative to anybody whether it’s football or soccer, or as a coach or a teacher.
How did it feel to enact the revenge?
I kept asking producers, “how far do you want me to take this?” Because I’ve had every kind of coach under the sun! The producers told me what kind of teacher she was, and they gave me key words that she’d said. I was taking on the role of how she treated her students. It was hard, because I’m the kind of teacher who is rolling on the floor laughing, so my palms were sweating! And you only ha one take to do this! A bunch of actors were in the room who were in the zone, but I’m not an actor! I’ve never done something like thbefore! But, I wanted her to feel the negativity that she’s been feeding off.
What advice would you have for young people who might be overweight and want to get into dancing?
If a dancer amazes you, and they have passion and drive for what they’re doing, it doesn’t matter if they’re fat, skinny, tall, short, you fall in love with the art of what they’re doing. It’s the same thing with music: you don’t care what the person looks like. If you fall in love with the song, the person is doing their job. I personally would take the critiques from people, but because I loved dancing so much, it was in one ear and I out the other. For children and teenagers who are going through the issues: if you love what you do, Ignore everything and just do it. If you enjoy what you’re doing, people are going to enjoy watching you do it.
What did you learn from being on the show?
I own a studio with my family and we have 300 students at my studio from ages 3-80, and the show kind of makes you re-evaluate how you talk to your students. That’s what I gained, and that’s what I wanted other people to view and gain from watching this. You don’t know what a kid is going through. When you throw negativity on them, it crumbles their world. They want to make you happy and impress you, and you can squash it in a second. Hug your students more!
Watch a Sneak Peek of Veata's story, airing tonight at 9/8c!
[Top Photo Credit: Getty Images]