Lizzy Howell is on a mission to educate people about what dancers are "supposed" to look like. An active girl from an early age, Lizzy is now 16 years old and spends a whole lot of her time doing what she's done since age 5: dancing. She's at her happiest when she's letting loose on the floor, whether that's ballet or tap, and she believes that confidence is key — and that it means different things for different people. "Only your [opinion] matters," she told POPSUGAR.
With a follower count of 136,000 on Instagram, Lizzy's important message reaches a lot of people. The teenager's social media presence grew in January 2017 after she shared a video of herself nailing multiple fouettès (a series of turns performed while whipping the leg around) during ballet class. "I didn't really understand why everyone thought it was so special, because that's just something I do all the time. I didn't post it to go viral or share my story," Lizzy said. "That just happened in the months later. Now that I have this platform, I try to be as transparent as possible, letting my followers know my life isn't always rainbows and unicorns."
"I think it helps to realise that people who hide behind a screen and bully you would never say anything to your face."
Flash forward to more than a year later, and Lizzy is proud to be a part of Instagram's #CaptureConfidence campaign, which empowers people to share what makes them feel the most confident. "My sense of humour keeps me confident," Lizzy told Instagram. Even at her young age, Lizzy has also learned the important truth about the "perfect" image people often project on social media. "I think sometimes social media paints a pretty picture in people's minds. I used to think famous people's lives were all happy," she told POPSUGAR. "I think it helps to realise that people who hide behind a screen and bully you would never say anything to your face. If you are being told you should quit doing something you love, don't quit! It's one person's opinion, and honestly if they can't see how happy it makes you, their opinion doesn't matter. Only yours does."
Lizzy's ballet teacher, Priscilla Payson, and longtime teacher Francisco Gella are just a couple of the dancers who inspire Lizzy on a daily basis. She also named Patrick Starrr, Shane Dawson, and David Dobrik as a few of her favourite people to follow on Instagram. "They are all so transparent with who they are and show you the good and the bad," she said. And we have no doubt that many young girls who look up to Lizzy feel the same about her.
This wildly talented dancer is proof that breaking boundaries and challenging stereotypes about women's bodies are powerful — and motivating — undertakings. See Lizzy in action (and spreading positive vibes) in the photo and video highlights ahead.