Shirley Ballas says she was cruelly body shamed as a young dancer by a judge who commented on her ‘revolting’ stretch marks: ‘It wasn’t like it is today’
Shirley Ballas says she was once marked down in a dance competition because an overly critical judge took umbrage with her stretch marks.
The Strictly Come Dancing head judge, 63, is a ballroom veteran and also dubbed Queen of Latin – but times haven’t always been easy.
Speaking to the Radio Times podcast, Shirley admitted she received fierce criticism when she returned to dance floor six weeks after giving birth to son Mark, her only child, in 1986.
She said: ‘It wasn’t like it is today where everybody’s got to walk on an eggshell to tell you something.
‘I went back to dancing six weeks after having my baby. I was told: ‘I marked you third as I refuse to look at the stretch marks on your back. I find it revolting’.
Unfair: Shirley Ballas revealed was marked down in a dance competition because of her ‘revolting’ stretch marks as she received some cruel criticism (pictured in London earlier this month)
Old times: Shirley in an undated photograph from her glory days as a professional dancer
‘I just accepted it, moved on and did what I needed to do – for me, it was character building,’ she added.
The dance teacher also admitted receiving very ‘direct’ criticism had an impact on her role on the BBC hot show – revealing her son had to give her ‘tips about being constructive and smiling’.
As Strictly Come Dancing head judge, Shirley has suffered her fair share of trolling and online abuse.
And the TV favourite has recently said the alleged Holly Willoughby plot has left her more ‘cautious’ than ever and scared to go out alone at night.
The dancer said that while she’s now better equipped to deal with nasty comments she receives from viewers, she has been affected by the ‘awful’ allegations that prompted Holly to quit her role on This Morning after 14 years.
‘I am still cautious, particularly with what’s just happened to Holly Willoughby, which is awful. I feel for her. I don’t go out on my own late at night,’ she told Best magazine.
Holly sensationally stepped down from her long-time role last month after it was alleged that shopping centre security guard Gavin Plumb had plotted to kidnap and murder her.
He has pleaded not guilty to three criminal charges relating to the alleged plot at Chelmsford Crown Court and has been remanded in custody until a trial in June.
Family: The Strictly judge admitted she received fierce criticism when she returned to dance floor six weeks after giving birth to son Mark (pictured), her only child, in 1986
Effort: The dance teacher also admitted receiving very ‘direct’ criticism had an impact on her role on the BBC show – revealing her son had to give her ‘tips about being constructive and smiling’
Terrifying: Shirley has said the alleged Holly Willoughby plot has left her more ‘cautious’ than ever and scared to go out alone at night (pictured in June)
Awful: Holly sensationally stepped down from her long-time role last month after it was alleged that shopping centre security guard Gavin Plumb had plotted to kidnap her (pictured on the show in September)
Dance icon Shirley has been part of the BBC’s flagship Saturday night dance competition since she replaced Len Goodman in 2017.
While she is a beloved part of the show, she has said she has been left ‘afraid to leave the house’ at times due to the cruel trolling and death threats she’s received.
Shirley’s fears will especially hit home as her son Mark, 37, was targeted when he was partnered with gymnast Shawn Johnson, 31, on Dancing With The Stars – the US version of Strictly.
‘I’ve had people draw coffins with me in it with somebody with a spade that said, “Die you b****,”’ she said on ITV documentary Olivia Attwood vs The Trolls.
She added: ‘This whole experience has made me much more vigilant. I cannot say that I leave my front door unless I am on point. I never relax. It has changed my life completely I would say.’
‘I am talking about being in public. You worry about those same strange people that write these kinds of messages.
‘Are they lurking in dark corners? Are they hiding behind walls when you go somewhere?’
Shirley admitted she is always on high alert as a result of the messages – but also harbours a degree of sympathy for those responsible.
Earlier this month Shirley was forced to apologise this week for suggesting women should carry Tasers to protect themselves from potential attackers.
The Strictly Come Dancing judge insisted women should ‘become more vigilant’ and educate themselves in how best to look after themselves if a dangerous situation should arise.
Ballroom dancer Shirley said women should carry the devices which shock people with a 50,000 volt charge, not realising they are in fact illegal and are only used by trained police in the UK, leading the BBC to issue a warning.
Fears: ‘I am still cautious, particularly with what’s just happened to Holly Willoughby, which is awful. I feel for her. I don’t go out on my own late at night,’ she told Best magazine (pictured last month)
How it was: A young Shirley iis pictured n a dance festival flyer from 1975
During an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour, she said: ‘All women in today’s society should become more vigilant. It’s important that people take care of themselves, maybe carry Tasers, things like that.
‘My message goes out to all women, not just women in ‘profile’ it’s taking care of yourself, it’s educating yourself.
‘What can you do if you were in a situation that happened to take hold of you, that you had no idea what to do.’
Host Krupa Padhy chimed in: ‘We must say that stun guns or tasers are prohibited weapons and it is an offence to possess them.’
Shirley later said: ‘I apologise for my comments. I did not know Tasers were illegal in the UK, and I do not encourage violence in any way shape or form.
‘I wanted to get the message across that women should feel empowered to protect themselves, and incorrectly mentioned the use of Tasers.’
Safety: Earlier this month Shirley was forced to apologise this week for suggesting women should carry Tasers to protect themselves from potential attackers (pictured on the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel this month)
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