I enter the locker room to three tween girls gathered around the scale.
Nervous chatter gives way to giggles as they slide the weights, determining the fate of their leader.
She's long and lean and full of spunk but as her friend calls out gleefully "You weigh one-oh-three!!!" her face falls and her eyes cloud over and I catch her eye.
One slow blink then poof she tosses her long, pretty ponytail and shrieks dramatically "Oh nooooooooooooooo one-oh-threeeee?!?!" sending her friends into peals of laughter and they trot out the door, her friend saying "Why are your shorts rolled up so high?!"
And as I catch my reflection, I see a ten-year-old ballerina staring back at me, pointing her slippered toes and smoothing back the pesky curl that escaped her bobby pin.
She plies and pada berets and as the tinkling music stops, her smile freezes with these sharp words from Madame:
"Thanksgiving is coming up, girls," she said cooly, lips set in a hard line. "Enjoy time with your families but remember one thing--" her jaw tightened,
"We want pretty ballerinas on stage not hippos."
And with that, they all exit--a mass of rolling eyes and muffled laughter, all of them tugging at their suddenly-unforgiving leotards.