Tuesday 26 March 2019

Cystic acne almost cost me my place in Pussycat Dolls, says Kimberly Wyatt

Kimberly Wyatt at the performing arts festival. Photo: David Conachy
Kimberly Wyatt at the performing arts festival. Photo: David Conachy
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Former Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt has talked of her private struggle with cystic acne while performing as part of the world's biggest girl group.

The blonde dancer, who touched down in Dublin at the weekend for Ireland's first performing arts festival, said the chronic skin condition was a nightmare in an industry that prizes physical beauty.

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"At the beginning of the Dolls I had cystic acne and it almost cost me my place in the group," she said.

"Just the pressure of 'It needs to be fixed or you'll lose your position.' In Don't Cha [the group's most famous music video], most of the group shots I wasn't even in. I was still fighting for my spot in the group."

Because of that? "Yes. You wear it on your face and you can't cover it up. When you have it, you see people look in your eyes and then you see them glance at everything around your face."

She said although the girl group achieved phenomenal success, the most difficult part was "feeling that having any sort of problem or comment and [if you expressed it] you would just be replaced. Feeling replaceable every day does not do good things to you inside.

"So I think that was probably the hardest thing of all. Because you are scarifying everything, you are living on the road and for the music and selling albums and everything is asked of you - to then have 'Well, if you don't like it, we will just replace you' was tough."

However, she says she knew being judged on physical appearance was par for the course when embarking on her dream.

"I am a dancer so I always knew this was going to be part of it. I started working on cruise ships and I was put on 'weight call'. I had to get weighed in every week to make sure I could fit the costumes. And then when I got to Los Angeles I wanted to be a working dancer but I didn't have the look, I didn't have the weight, I didn't have the perfect skin. It was horrible. It was unreal," she said.

Kimberly has become the latest in a line of stars including Cameron Diaz and Kendall Jenner who have spoken about their struggle with acne.

To others coping with the condition, she says: "Focus on what you are passionate about because what you look like doesn't always matter. And when it does, I think the stress of it only brings it on more."

She said her own way of tackling the pressure was to instead play to her strengths. "I just focused on being the absolute best dancer I could possibly be so I could give them no reason to get rid of me."

Now, through her dance class Bring Your Heels, she wants to flip the script.

"I think there needs to be more focus on wellness and fitness so I have been working a lot for the Youth Sports Trust as an ambassador and travelling to schools to bring dance to people because I think it gets people active and focused on what they can do rather than what they look like. Instead you can get lost in the music."

With 25 years of professional dancing experience, Kimberly wants to help empower women in her new dance fitness concept. As part of the Perform festival, she wants to teach women "to be fearless and be authentic in life and in movement". She says: "Women should own and be empowered in your space and know that that's OK. I want to provide women with a fun and safe way to practise that."

Perform takes place in the RDS today and brings together performers from all disciplines, featuring over 170 workshops, master-classes and seminars, from beginner to advanced.

There will also be opportunities to talk to Irish and UK performing-arts colleges and associations to find out about courses, as well as opportunities to audition with entertainment agencies and get scouted.

A single day ticket is €15 while a festival pass costs €35. For more information, visit www.performireland.ie

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