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Obama and prima ballerina Misty Copeland talk black beauty

BLACK ROLE MODEL: Ballerina Misty Copeland

PRESIDENT OBAMA held a frank discussion on race and body image, and shared his insight as a father and husband in a sit-down interview with prima ballerina Misty Copeland.

Copeland, the first black to be named the principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, has been breaking barriers in the ballet world with her athletic body type.

In the interview posted by Time magazine yesterday (Mar 14), Obama said Copeland has served as a positive role model for black women facing down the limitations posed by their race and gender.

IN DISCUSSION: Copeland and President Obama

"That pressure I think is historically always been harder on African American women than just about any other women," Obama said.

"But it’s part and parcel of a broader way in which we socialise and press women to constantly doubt themselves or define themselves in terms of a certain appearance."

"And so [my wife] Michelle and I are always guarding against that. And the fact that they’ve got a tall gorgeous mom who has some curves, and that their father appreciates, I think is helpful," he added.

Copeland, who was considered a prodigy after starting ballet at the age of 13, said she hopes her heightened role will help her promote a healthy body image in the ballet world.

"We are fully capable of doing everything that the person who doesn't have an extremely athletic body, that is more thin," she said.

"I think that being in this position and showing that I can execute and do all of these things that it’s possible to have any skin complexion, to have a healthy body image for the ballerina body," she said.

"I think it’s given me more of a voice. And it’s I think forcing a lot of these top tier companies to address the lack of diversity and diversifying the bodies that we’re seeing in classical ballet."

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