British actress Kimberly Jaraj has opened up about her experience as a young dancer at the U.K.'s Royal Ballet School, insisting she lived in fear of her strict instructors. Jaraj began attending the prestigious academy when she was just eight years old and admits it wasn't the best environment to grow up in as teachers pitted students against one another.
"Someone would cry every day," she says. "I never felt the pressure for being skinny, but other girls definitely did. They did weigh us frequently and they would say things to me like, 'Your mother's 5ft 6in and your father's 6ft, so why aren't you taller?' I'd think, 'How am I supposed to know?' "
"The smallest thing, like, if you didn't have your little pink ribbon in your hair, you'd panic. They would tell you to sit out. You're in competition with your friends every day. [And] they didn't really warm to other ethnicities. They weren't that accepting of somebody who wasn't white or Christian."
Now the 22-year-old has the utmost respect for professional ballerinas, adding, "It really is the hardest profession."