One Californian woman overcame bullies, self-doubt, and a broken heart to become a force to be reckoned with.

It’s tough enough to be a kid in today’s world, let alone to be a kid who is dealing with a physical stigma.

However, that’s exactly how it was growing up for 32-year-old Californian, Amy Marie.

“I have been big my whole life; growing up I was taller than all the boys and wider than all the girls,” she recalled to Metro.

Her dreams seemed crushed

Despite her bigger build, her dream was always to become a ballerina. In fact, she was never mindful of her weight until, as a 10-year-old in ballet class, cruel comments made her painfully aware.

“We were all kneeling on the ground and one girl pointed to me and said, ‘why does your leg look like that?’ Amy said.

And with that, the ballerina’s dreams were dashed.

“I remember thinking, ‘Is there something wrong with me and my legs?’ I began looking in the mirror and obsessively trying to make my thighs and stomach smaller,” she admitted.

I gave up wanting to be a ballerina because I was told I was never going to look like one.

Amy Marie

Her glow up

After arriving at university, however, Amy rekindled her love for dancing. She still endured poor-fitting clothes and even worse, “girls whispering and rolling their eyes at me.”

But there was something else she noticed: Each time she danced, her haters were shocked at her big-girl moves.

When her boyfriend cheated on her, it was the extra fuel Amy needed to focus. She used dance as therapy, going to the gym at midnight to avoid the judgy gazes of others.

“To get myself through it all I just danced. I would write in my journal and then turn that journal entry into dance choreography,” she said.

While it was torture at times, she said it was 100% worth it.

In every performance, I would break down and sob and yell and work through my emotions for a whole year. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

– Amy Marie

Be true to yourself

Since then, Amy’s become an established plus-sized model, with her Instagram page (@amy_marie_la) showcasing her journey through dance.

Most importantly, she’s learned to value self-love over the opinions of others.

“I’ve learned that I can’t control how other people view me. There are plenty of reasons for people to fat shame but that doesn’t matter to me anymore.”

People might try to stop you or shame you, but if you are passionate about something, it shows. People will notice and eventually you will find your community of support that will encourage you to pursue it.

– Amy Marie

Amy’s lesson is a painful yet powerful one. No matter how hard we try, we’ll never be able to police every off-handed comment, stare, or whisper that is cast our way. While you might stumble or shed some tears along your journey, stay true to your inner compass and you’ll be rewarded.

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“Your greatest responsibility is to love yourself and to know you are enough.” – Anonymous