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- British actress
Maisie Smith says being a part of Strictly Come Dancing helped her to confront her body insecurities and face her fears.
The 20-year-old EastEnders actor said the dancing show was a "game-changer" for her in getting past body confidence issues she had struggled with since her schooldays.
She told The Sun: "I’ve always hated my legs and my cellulite. When I was at school, I was the only one who had it.
"When I went to parties I wouldn’t get my legs out. I would wear trousers all summer.
“It wasn’t until I did Strictly last year and they literally said: ‘You have got to wear a leotard.’ I was shoved in the deep end and it helped me, because I completely faced my fears straight on.”
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Smith has grown up on TV screens, having joined the cast of EastEnders in the role of Tiffany Butcher at just seven years old.
The character was seen leaving London and heading to live with her brother Liam in Germany.
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Smith said: "When the producers told me they weren’t gonna kill me, I was so relieved. That would have been horrific.
"It’s nice to know that they’d have me back. I’ve kept that with me, knowing I will always end up coming back at some point."
Smith's long tenure on the show meant she got chance to take on dozens of memorable storylines, including a resonant plot in which the teenage Tiffany decided to get lip fillers.
"I’ve experienced a lot of body-image hatred – not from anyone else, but from me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to look a certain way," said Smith.
She added: "From quite young, I worked out in the gym because I didn’t like my body. I put a lot of make-up on to cover my face.
"I enjoyed that story line, because I completely related to it. I have felt that exact way before, so it was nice to address it. You can think someone’s beautiful, but they don’t see it."
Smith ultimately made it all the way to the final of Strictly in 2020 with professional partner Gorka Marquez, finishing as runner-up to comedian Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse.
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