Lizzy Howell of Milford didn’t anticipate worldwide attention when she uploaded a video of herself twirling in her dance studio last November.
To the 15-year-old’s surprise, her video went viral.
To date, Lizzy, a plus-size dancer, has been featured in Teen Vogue, Elle, Women’s Health Magazine, People, Today and Cosmopolitan Magazine.
She squeezed those interviews in between her schooling and four-day a week dance class schedule, of course. Lizzy currently studies ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary and advanced variations class.
Although the sudden fame has been overwhelming at times, she told The Milford Chronicle that she’s glad she can help others.
Learn more about Lizzy Howell in this week’s Get to know the town feature.
Educational background: Currently homeschooled in 10th grade
For how long
have you danced?
“Ten years. It was after my mom passed away and all the girls in preschool were doing it. I wanted to be just like them. It just stuck. I tried other things like soccer, field hockey, swimming, lacrosse and none of them stuck like dance did.”
“I have pseudotumor cerebri which is excess build-up of spinal fluid around the brain. It could cause me to go blind. I was diagnosed a year ago and now I have to go up to A.I. duPont once a week at least. And that’s just for one doctor. It was a two-hour drive from my school, Sussex Tech and I was getting sick once a month with a cold because my immune system was down. So, went with homeschooling. It’s all on the computer.”
What are other ways your disorder affects your life?
“It makes it harder to lose weight as well, which is an issue with dance. Last June was the last time I had a headache. My vision would go black. It takes time away from my studio.”
“It’s an emotional release for me. If I’m having a bad day, I come and dance it out. If I’m having a good day, I dance happily. It’s an extra nightly counseling I can go to. I can’t image life without it.”
What are your life goals?
“I would like to be a choreographer or on Broadway. But outside of dance I want to be a forensic psychologist…. Or a forensic anthropologist.”
What is it like to “go viral?”
“I don’t know much about it really. It just happened last week, last Tuesday. I was excited at first. I was happy it went viral. But it was posted in November. So I thought: Why’s it a big deal now? I’ve been sharing it on Instagram for four years. It was shocking to me.”
What have been some of
your biggest moments so far?
“Pretty Big Movement actually messaged me. They want me to come to New York to do a video together. Niecy Nash shared my video on Instagram. There was Inside Edition, but I missed it. I was here dancing.”
If you could tell local girls anything…
“If you want to aspire to be something, do it. Don’t let stereotypes stop you from achieving what you want to achieve. People shouldn’t tear you down from doing what you love.”
Has everything been positive about your video?
“Some people have said just because she’s plus size… if she wasn’t a larger dancer, this video wouldn’t have gone viral. It wouldn’t be a big deal. Or when people say, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe she danced better than me’ like I shouldn’t dance good because I’m big? People judge by your looks.”
But you say…
“Persevere through the hateful comments. If someone’s saying something bad about you, they don’t know your story. They don’t know your struggles. They don’t know it’s been a hard year, that I changed a lot of the people helping me [psychologist, doctors, etc.]. Now there’s a lot of the right people helping me and it’s good.”
Jennifer Antonik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org