Black bodies are incredible. Whether for their strength, litheness, curves or color, they are a thing to behold.

Misty Copeland, the first black principal dancer for America’s leading classical ballet company,the American Ballet Theatre, is significant not just for breaking a racial barrier, but for what her body represents. Copeland is not built like a ‘typical’ ballerina. She is shorter, more busty and — like her counterparts Serena Williams in tennis and Simone Biles in gymnastics — visibly muscular.

“As an adult, I was told that I didn’t have the right skin color… I was too muscular. I was too curvy. My breasts were too big. I was too short.” — Misty Copeland

Copeland is a true departure from the traditional image of a ballet dancer as fair-skinned, tall and lithe, so she made sure to gently check critics after they accused her of photoshopping an image. At issue is a re-touched image from Gregg Delman’s coffee table book Misty, a collection of the most iconic photos of the ballerina. Copeland’s torso is twisted towards the camera, her waist looking preternaturally small. Although amazing, the image is not photoshopped save for the smoothing of her leotard, and Copeland took to Instagram to make it clear.

“I’m so proud of this wonderful book that @greggdelmanphoto made. The positive body image that is shown throughout is a healthy one and what I stand for. The image on the left was photoshopped to smooth out my leotard. No altering was done to my body. I’m happy and proud of my body and would never participate in changing it.”

When interviewed about her fitness regimen in NY Mag, Copeland marveled at how perfect ballet is for strengthening and maintaining the body;

“I don’t think people understand all that it takes to create a ballerina body. This craft is structured in a way where you really don’t have to do other things. When I’m in my off seasons I’ll do other cross trainings, but when I’m in season I’m in ballet class every day, rehearsing for eight hours. The ballet technique is so smart and beautiful and for hundreds of years it has been able to create strong bodies that look beautiful all on its own. Off season, I take Pilates floor mat classes, Gyrotonic on the Reformer, and run on the elliptical machine for cardio — I don’t use any resistance because I tend to bulk up quickly.”

Here are some visual reminders of how remarkable Copeland’s body is.

Yeh… she don’t need photoshop.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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36 Comments on "After Being Accused of Photoshop, Misty Copeland Brings Receipts Showing Her Body is Just That Insane"

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She’s looking like an elegant starfish!


News Alert: most black people in the US ARE biracial. Fewer are triracial but they do exist. There are very few who are 100 percent African descent.


Misty is body goals! ?

Deshaun Tellez

I googled Misty and her mom is only half italian. That makes her at least 3/4 black – not biracial. If your father is black; genetically you are black. If you have any black blood, and you want to represent our race with pride; I embrace you. Blue-black and dark-chocolate sisters, we all want to see more of your beautiful hues in this color-struck world we live in; only we can make this happen together. Meanwhile let’s not play into the old slave mentality of resenting one another, because we are all black and beautiful.

marie vera

Who cares She’s human! When will people ( especially Blacks) stop furthering the teachings of Willie Lynch and his methods of separating blacks according to lightness of skin, etc, abhor words such as Mixed, half this half that, so ignorant and keeps division going. How about she’s a beautiful human!


Her father is biracial, too, which makes her half-white.


I was about to say the same thing. Thank you! Amazing as this biracial woman is (wow), she’s IS biracial, not a black woman. So tired of this desperate clutching black media appears to do in ‘claiming’ these as examples of black women. Are they that desperate?? Apparently so, and it’s awful to keep seeing these ‘examples’ hailed – Used to be the front covers & articles in Ebony and Essence magazine (remember those?) it’s the internet. Sigh.


Sorry but if she were to walk down the street in a place like Corbin, Kentucky, and most other places in the US, the rednecks shouting slurs from their pickup trucks would see her as just one thing: African American.


PERFECTION. even has a beautiful face. She’s stunning!!!

safia yusif

Uhm, am I the only one who doesn’t think she is a black woman, but a biracial woman instead? Nothing about her features scream black to me.

MagnoliaGirl Phillips
MagnoliaGirl Phillips

Misty is so beautiful and her body AMAZIING! GO MISTY GO! She has an incredible life story and journey too 🙂


Everybodies a phuckin critic….GET a life!!!


Forget the Photoshop debate, those poses alone screams…..”amazing body”!

Susan Forest-Rode

She has an amazing body. But if you’re going to say “black bodies are incredible” then you might as well say all bodies are incredible. I wouldn’t nit pick about her body but the two images do look different. Look at her thighs. I think she looks great in either picture and I would love to have a body like that. But it’s not so much about her body, rather what she can do with it, that is so amazing. Truly skilled and athletically amazing.

R Peterson
“Copeland is a true departure from the traditional image of a ballet dancer as fair-skinned, tall and lithe” The reason she said black bodies are incredible is because they’re often dismissed as “less than.” The default image of beauty in our culture, and the default in ballet, is of a white body. Trying to instill confidence in black women for their bodies is not dismissing the rest of the population. I’ll use the classic cancer example. Saying, “Breast cancer is a serious disease and a cure needs to be found,” doesn’t mean that other forms of cancer aren’t worth examining… Read more »

There is always a bit of post processing in images, lets keep it real! For example: contrast, brightness, color correction, sharpening and cropping to name a few. As far as her body, I don’t think that was “shopped” at all. During the days of film, images were airbrushed and it was accepted so what is the big deal anyway ohhh to sell and market your website……got it

Harlee Jo

I think there was some photoshopping of her image. One thing that stands out quickly is her thigh. She may not have known, noticed, consented or wanted them to but I think whoever was in charge of it shaved off just a little bit. Either way she is incredibly beautiful and her body is beyond amazing and it doesn’t need a single ounce of photoshopping.

Shaniqua L.

I think the difference you’re noticing is because the image on the left is zoomed out compared to the one on the right. You can tell by how much of her leg below the knee is showing, and how her forehead is cropped in each photo. I don’t think anything was done with photoshop to change her body. He skin is lighter and the wrinkles in her leotard are gone but those are the only things I noticed other than the zooming. Her shape looks the same in each pic to me.

Michael Valentine-Smith
Michael Valentine-Smith

The image on the right is just zoomed in compared to the image on the left. So the top of her head, her elbow at the right, and the calf are all cut off more than the image on the left, so it looks to you like the thigh occupies more of the screen, but it’s not actually larger. Take the image on the left and zoom in slightly with an image processing app if you have one and they match perfectly.


She is a beautiful young lady & her body is amazing. They have been hating on black women for a long time and still hate on us. Whether its our skin tone, hair or body.


…or our intelligence, our educations, our singing voices, eye color, or our children (especially our sons) our husbands, boyfriends, our babies, our creativity, our talent, our history, our spirits…


Sounding hateful and dumb.


People hating what they desire, mere jealousy. White girls wanna be dark, have have full lips, big butts, kinky hair, but still wanna have the perks of being white. I dunno. I think every race has their own beauty.


I am in awe of this amazing beautiful lady.


I read her memoir last summer. It’s well done. She’s an inspiration!

There is a general attack on black women period!! The entertainment industry hates strong powerful looking black women. Someone somewhere is always gonna find some bullsh** to negatively speak against black women. Dark skin sistahs get it the WORST but the solution is that black women need to write into these advertising agencies, the TV shows etc and let these white people know that black women in ALL shades need to be represented in a positive manner. Get rid of the rachet ass reality TV shows where black women are buffoonish. This all has a domino on our images across… Read more »

People don’t know anything about sports..


Nor do some know that the body is not always symmetrical. I take ballet and annoyingly my left calf is noticeably larger than my right.


Yeah that’s completely natural, I workout on a daily basis and I’m not symmetrical either

So the one on the left does look altered. And not just her leotard. From the lighting so the size of her thighs and her arms. Certain things were made a bit smaller and lighter. The lighting I get, cause the one of the right, a good portion of her face is too dark to be seen cause its covered in shadow. But they also made her face a bit longer and a smidge thinner. But beyond that, its not that big of a deal. I feel like the people coming for her are those that are being petty because… Read more »
Michael Cashaw

The one photo is cropped, which would account for the slight size difference.


Yet here you are looking to justify other critics. Here again another example of our desire to criticize than to celebrate. We were not here long ago on the issue of our Olympic Champions hair,skin, and make-up. We must be that unhappy with ourselves why we find it difficult to celebrate others.

C. C.

Reina, I know it’s not the popular opinion here and not to cause any dispute with others but I saw the differences also. Her thigh and left hip, arm and face are smaller. Ms. Copeland is a remarkable, accomplished and beautiful black woman. Just a comment on what the article was referring to, an accusation of photoshopping .

Hi! I hope you won’t mind me sharing my input. I just want to clarify on the differences, because I noticed them as well, but I believe I know the reason why. The image on the right is a photograph of something physical; like a flyer perhaps. You can see the slight wrinkling of the paper, the darker shade would be due to the lighting in the room, and this flyer/cover/whatever it may be is being photographed from a slightly lower angle, that perspective makes her thighs, face, etc look a bit fuller. I’m familiar with this because I’m an… Read more »
Susan Forest-Rode

I think it’s a book cover because the title is on it. But that doesn’t make sense because the article said they took the wrinkles out of her leotard.


Her waist looks even smaller in the original pic lol bet the critics feel stupid now.