National Eating Disorders Association

Actress & Dancer Mollee Gray Opens Up About Her Body Image Struggles

Mollee Gray is an actress and dancer most recognized as Giggles in Disney films Teen Beach and Teen Beach 2 and as a finalist on season 6 of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. She currently tours nationwide teaching master classes and dance workshops, and serves as a celebrity ambassador for Breaking the Chains Foundation.

Despite her successful career, Gray has struggled with body image concerns and coming out as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Learn more about her insights and experiences in our interview below:

National Eating Disorders Association: You’ve been an actress and dancer from a young age. How did those experiences affect your body image and self-esteem? 

Mollee Gray: Being in the entertainment industry since a young age has absolutely affected my body image/self-esteem. No matter what your age, being put in the spotlight for people to openly judge you will always be a difficult task to grasp. Being so young, it’s hard to understand why people could be so mean, when at that age, you didn’t quite understand what was even “wrong” or “ugly” about your body. Therefore, all the comments brings more attention to yourself, and that’s when insecurities form. 

NEDA: What unique challenges do dancers face when it comes to body image and eating disorders?

Gray: Dancers are in front of a mirror every single day, studying their bodies, comparing to the person next to them, and eventually it will take a toll on someone. We are expected to wear body conscious clothing that shows off our beautiful lines, and unfortunately any “imperfection” we normally wouldn’t want people to see. As a dancer is constantly showcasing their body “silhouette” to other people, eventually they want to take control of their own image and choose the minimal amount to put in their bodies, to showcase as little “fat” as possible, to refrain from getting criticized. 

Mollee Gray

NEDA: What advice do you have for young dancers and other athletes who are facing body image concerns?

Gray: My advice for any person in general with body image concerns, is choose to be healthy, for yourself. Not every single person is built the same way, that’s what makes each individual so beautiful. The quicker you understand you have control of your image, the more confident you will be, being fully and HEALTHY you. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone else but yourself, and the sooner you see yourself as beautiful, the quicker you will live your happiest life. 

NEDA: What message would you like to give LGBTQ+ people about living authentically?

Gray: Living authentically in the LGBTQ community takes a lot of courage and sometimes a lot of time. I know I was scared to tell my family, friends, fans, etc.! I was SO scared I was going to lose everything I had. This life I worked so hard for, would just be taken from me, because of who I am. Well, it was actually the complete opposite. I am now living the most beautiful life I could ever imagine. I am married to an exquisite, strong woman, have the most supporting family and team, I’m still working and living my dream every day, and most of all I get to be a spokesperson for those who are scared to live authentically. I am here to let you all know, as much hate is in the world right now, being true to yourself will bring out the most loving and supporting humans all around you. You just have to be brave and love yourself enough to give you the best life you deserve! We are worth it! 

NEDA: How do you hope the media and dance world change in the future?

Gray: I absolutely love the media and its platform for young artists/entrepreneurs all around the world! I only wish for young kids to not compare themselves to celebrities and people with big followings. To be inspired is perfectly fine, but to strive to be exactly like someone rips away ones authenticity! Remember that there is photoshop and editing, and not every picture is how it seems! I want young kids to use social media as a tool rather than a goal! Be proud of who you are and showcase your talents, but please never let a “like” or “view” dictate your self-worth! 

NEDA: How are you working to promote positive body image?

Gray: I try and promote it during meet and greets, on my social media pages, anywhere I can to reach these amazing young kids. I also teamed up as an ambassador of Breaking The Chains Foundation to empower the youth of our generation and educate them to put a stop to eating disorders! 

NEDA: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Gray: I am just so grateful to be able to have the opportunity to be a role model for kids, LGBTQ+ community, and anyone who needs guidance. I feel so lucky to have a big enough platform to try and spread some positivity and make a change/impact in our society today.

Banner image courtesy of Instagram