Topic of body image takes center stage as ballerina Misty Copeland returns home to talk about book

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A ballet phenom made her way back to the metro this week. Kansas City native Misty Copeland shared her Monday night with dozens of her fans inside the Country Club Plaza’s Unity Temple.

Copeland is taking part in fundraising efforts and to promote her new book, which she says doesn’t dance around a very important issue. After watching Copeland perform, there’s no wonder why folks lined up for a rare opportunity to meet her.

“She’s like my idol and I always just wanted to be like her,” said 9-year old dancer Leah Punch.

“My daughter is very much interested in ballet and I think that having a great role model in that capacity of someone who’s making excellent decisions with their life would be a great thing for her to learn about and emulate,” said Leah’s mother Mary Punch.

“She is someone who’s not afraid to be different and she really embraces that and is really brave to be out there and being and inspiration for girls like me,” said dancer Amara Webb.

Copeland made history by becoming the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre in 2015. Ever since, she’s been using her platform to inspire young dancer, especially those who have never before seen a ballerina that looks like them.

"I think once you show the world what's possible, like seeing a ballerina with brown skin, it's eventually going to change their mind,” said Copeland.

Monday night, the topic of body image took center stage as Copeland discussed her book newest book “Ballerina Body.”

“Body image is a huge conversation. Professional development and leadership skills are huge and learning to express ones self,” said Michelle Webb who was there with her step daughter.

Healthy body image is a message moms say kids can’t get too early.

“If children can learn now about the good decisions they can make for the rest of their lives, that will set them up for the rest of their life,” said Mary Punch.

Known for being more muscular than an average ballerina, Copeland shares why she wrote the book.

"It's been an incredible process into creating this book and showing especially black women what it is to be healthy and take care of yourself and see yourself in a positive way,” said Copeland.

Copeland’s appearance is part of a fundraising effort for the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.

“Part of our mission is promoting diversity and inclusion. That’s a big part of our work and it has been for the last 33 years, so Misty represents to many black children and many young women a different role model, and a role model that they can relate to. She is a pioneer in that sense,” said KCFAA CEO Harlan Brownlee.