Locker room Talk With CHristel

Danish dancer, former Cirque Du Soleil performer and celebrator, Christel Klan Stjerneberg on body image and pressure. 

As a woman and a dancer, in a tough, competitive society; how do you find energy and strength to believe in yourself and push forward?

-I am fortunate to have parents that have provided me the basics of well-founded self-esteem my whole life. This has caused me to be an optimist, always believing that things will work out if I work hard enough. But also, realizing the importance of surrounding myself with good people and good values in all aspects of my everyday life.

How are you affected by beauty ideals and the model standards surrounding us in society and social media?

- Luckily, I've taught myself to not be so affected by it. I rarely compare my body to others. I don't read beauty magazines, I'm not a fanatic about food or training, nor do I have a certain body ideal that I pursue. My body looks the way it does because of the work I do for a living, not because of vanity. I honestly look at my body and think it's quite beautiful (mostly). Maybe it's a bit arrogant, but it sure saves me a lot of worries.

How do you deal with it?

When I was an artist in Cirque du Soleil, I was asked to lose weight. This was a tough one for me, I never had a problem with the way I looked before, and now I was given a problem. My immediate response was to eat a muffin and wear a top that exposed my belly, haha. Looking back at it, I am so grateful that this didn't affect me deeply - my self-esteem and integrity was not damaged from this experience, instead I started working even harder

Do you have any tips to young women struggling with low self-esteem, comparing themselves to others, and as a result has negative thoughts of their own body/look?

- Stop staring at photo-shopped women on Facebook! Or at least acknowledge that they are not real. Or laugh the hell out of the whole thing. Just like we try to keep our bodies in shape, we need to keep our minds in shape too. It is so important to not lie to ourselves and to not dwell into things that we know are not making ourselves feel good. And to take the piss out of everything occasionally.

We are often our own worst critics, when it comes to anything … How do you find the power to believe in yourself and do your own thing?

- Whenever I feel low, I know that I need to stop idealizing things around me that make me feel inferior or worthless. It is so clear to me how I am always my best when I manage to get back at concentrating on my own stuff. And then I like myself so much more - I'm more honest, I'm more inspired, I'm more likable, I'm funnier, I don’t pretend, I just am. A bit easier said than done though.

How do you celebrate yourself and your victories?

- By dancing the hell out of myself!