Beyoncé's Backup Dancer Started a Dance Company for Curvy Women
She took matters into her own hands after she was turned away by several agents because of her size.
Akira Armstrong had high hopes for her dancing career after being featured in two of Beyoncé's music videos. Unfortunately, working for Queen Bey simply wasn't enough for her to find herself an agent-not because of her lack of talent, but because of her size.
"I was already a professional dancer, and that's when I flew to Los Angeles. I kind of got like the side-eye, like, 'Who is this girl?' Like, she doesn't really belong," Armstrong says in a video for The Scene. "People behind the desk were like, 'What do we do with her?'"
"People look at you and already judge you based on your size, [thinking] she's not going to be able to do the job, without even giving you a chance to really prove yourself. I felt discouraged."
This wasn't the first time Armstrong had come across this kind of body shaming.
"Growing up in a dance environment, I did feel like my body was a negative," she said. "I couldn't fit [into] costumes, and my costume was always different from everyone else's."
Having trouble in the professional world is one thing, but she even dealt with similar humiliation in her personal life.
"Family members used to make fun of me," she says, choking up. "It was frustrating."
Armstrong left L.A. after several disappointing rejections and decided that if she ever had a shot at a dancing career, she would have to take control herself.
So, she started the Pretty Big Movement, a dance company specifically for curvy women. "After going on auditions and being told no, I wanted to create a platform for other plus-sized women to feel comfortable," she says, adding that she believes her dance group will inspire others to step out of their comfort zone and to appreciate their bodies just as they are.
"When they see us perform, I want them to feel inspired. I want them to be blown away. I want the little girl who's watching to be like, 'Look mom, I can do that too. Look at those big girls up there with Afros on,'" Armstrong says. "It's about uplifting and empowering women to feel like they can do anything, not just dance."
Watch the group blow your mind in the video below.