When it comes to ballet, the beauty within the art form is outstanding – however, there’s a serious diversity issue when it comes down to it.

Ballet embraces a Eurocentric beauty standard, which often leaves out women of color and causes black ballerinas such as Misty Copeland and Dejah Poole to be serious exceptions. 

Byrdie Beauty sat down with Poole recently to discuss her beauty routine and what it’s like to be a brown girl in the ballet world. Amongst many shared thoughts was Poole’s story where she discussed how she started ballet:

Photo: @dejahonpointe

“At the age of 3, my mother enrolled me in dance classes at a small studio called "Footworks Dance Studio" on the south side of Chicago. Like most mothers, she thought this would be a fun, cute activity for her daughter. What it evolved into she never imagined. There, Auntie Toni, as we all lovingly called her, introduced young and energetic brown girls to different techniques and styles of dance,” shared Poole shared with Byrdie Beauty.

By the time Poole was in the eighth grade, she was positive that she wanted dance to be a career for her. She was accepted into the Dance Conservatory Art Program, where she trained 5 days a week, participated in summer intensive training and then took off to New York to be a part of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. 

Photo: @dejahonpointe

While the journey wasn’t easy, Poole overcame many obstacles that came with being a brown girl in the ballet world. She recalls feeling different at a very young age due to her complexion and body type:

“I am a young black woman who has struggled with being accepted in the dance world because my body does not fit the stereotypical "dancer's body," which is petite, thin, tall, long legs, "good feet," etc. Over the last year, I have had to learn to get comfortable in the body God gave me,” she revealed.

Photo: @dejahonpointe

Poole is also a ballerina who wears her hair naturally, or in protective styles to ensure that she can manipulate it to fit the requirements of shows. As naturalistas know, it’s not the easiest to put our natural hair into a sleek bun (without an endless amount of product) and then have it straight within the next hour. Poole’s go-to's tend to be protective styles such as twists and braids. 

Her skin is also something she needs to maintain regularly due to having acne-prone skin. She avoids products that clog pores to ensure that she doesn’t break out. To ensure she remains break-out free, Poole is currently seeing a dermatologist, and makes her skincare routine something she does daily. 

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