Shirley Ballas, head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, opened up about facing body-shaming comments early in her career. The 63-year-old revealed that, six weeks after giving birth, a dance judge criticised her stretch marks, deeming them “revolting.”
Reflecting on the past, Ballas shared the incident on the Radio Times podcast, highlighting the lack of sensitivity in that era. Recalling the judge’s words, she said, “I marked you third, as I refuse to look at the stretch marks on your back. I find it revolting.” Despite the harsh comments, Ballas accepted the critique, describing the experience as “character building.”
Having returned to dancing shortly after giving birth, Ballas faced the challenges of the industry’s norms at that time. She acknowledged the impact of those early experiences on her approach to giving criticism as a judge, emphasising the need to be less harsh and more constructive.
Ballas credited her son with advising her on adapting to British TV and suggesting a more positive and constructive tone in critiques. She highlighted the importance of delivering feedback in a way that encourages improvement rather than being overly direct.
In a recent show of solidarity, Ballas praised professional dancer Amy Dowden for appearing without a wig on Strictly Come Dancing. Dowden, who is undergoing cancer treatment, chose not to wear a wig, and Ballas commended her courage and determination to shed light on cancer issues, especially for young people.
Shirley Ballas, known as the Queen of Latin, took over the role of head judge on Strictly in 2017, succeeding her former teacher Len Goodman. She has been vocal about facing online abuse since assuming the high-profile position, even hiring a personal assistant to filter her messages and shield herself from offensive content.