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Ballerina fired for looking "too fat" on stage speaks out against pressure to be perfect

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Kathleen Rea was a dancer who was 5'6" and 105 pounds.

But that wasn't thin enough, says Rea, who is speaking out against industry pressure to be thin in her new book, The Healing Dance.

Too fat to perform?

Rea was a ballet dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and suffered with bulimia for nearly 10 years before finally seeking treatment. She complied with the company's weight requirements by starving herself--but the behavior quickly turned into a vicious cycle of binge eating and purging.

"[The company] said because I had larger breasts than the other girls, they had to see more bones," Rea told U.S. News earlier this month.

After Rea sought help for her eating disorder--and put on some weight--she was fired by the ballet company for embarrassing Canada by looking "too fat" on stage.

"I slept on the bathroom floor because I thought my bedroom was too luxurious for what I deserved. I would sleep with a knife almost ready to cut the fat off my thighs and at that time I was also binging and purging up to eight times a day."

Overcoming obstacles and giving back

The Healing Dance is about Rea's struggles with bulimia and how she managed to overcome her eating disorder. Now a psychotherapist, Rea claims that the performance industry holds women to impossible body image standards. She says that about half of the girls she danced with had similar eating disorder problems.

As a therapeutic performance facilitator, Rea now helps people express their challenges or feelings through different types of performance, whether it's dance, song, or art.

"When we [sense] things that match our inner world, a connection is made that brings us home to ourselves," Rea said.

Sources: U.S. News Health, Radar Online