WATCHING her fellow dancers pirouette gracefully across the stage in their Christmas production, Tiffany Broadfoot burned with shame.
At 19 stone, the student ballerina was simply too fat for a tutu.
So instead of a delicate pink leotard and taffeta, Tiffany thundered from the wings in a black tracksuit.
But now after losing eight stone, the embarrassment of being too fat to wear a tutu is well and truly behind her.
This Christmas she is celebrating after slimming from a size 24 to a size 12 – meaning she is finally able to wear a tutu.
Tiffany, 21, of Glasgow, said: ‘ I used to be more Sugar Plump Fairy than Sugar Plum Fairy so it feels amazing to finally be able to wear a costume like this on stage.
‘The Nutcracker is one of my favourite ballets so to wear the costume of the Sugar Plum Fairy is fantastic.
‘This Christmas I’ve finally got the body I’ve always wanted. I’ve always been a dancer, but now I actually look like one at last.’
Tiffany was shamed into dieting shortly after she became the biggest student ever to graduate with a HND in dance from Anniesland College, Glasgow.
It should have been one of the proudest moments of her life, but the occasion was marred by sniggers and raised eyebrows when Tiffany collected her certificate for passing her course in ballet, tap and contemporary dance.
She says: ‘ I knew people were staring at me in my size 24 graduation robes wondering how such a big girl could possibly graduate in dance.
‘I was three times the size of all the other graduates and the biggest dancer to ever pass the course.’
Trouble started for Tiffany as a teenager when she discovered her two loves in life – dancing and food.
Aged three she started lessons at a local school and soon discovered she had a natural talent.
Aged 13 she had her heart set on a career in the West End.
She explains: ‘ I loved everything about dancing and knew that’s what I wanted to do. I pictured myself dancing in shows and wearing a tutu on stage for performances.’
But aged 14 Tiffany found her second passion, food.
She’d applied for a part time job in a fish and chip shop to help pay for her dance lessons and equipment.
But she quickly fell in love with the fast food on offer, particularly as it was free to staff at break times.
She explains: ‘ I’d always loved fish and chips but when I started working at the shop I ate it all the time.
‘Every break I’d eat a battered sausage and fishcakes or a piece of cod and bag of chips.’
As her appetite for food grew, so did her dreams of becoming a professional dancer.
She says: ‘ I know it sounds daft but I thought I would eventually get round to losing the weight and it would be OK.’
But her technique never suffered even though she had to work twice as hard as the other dancers to prove she could move despite her size.
She says: ‘ Nobody could question my commitment to dance because my technique was good.
‘I worked really hard and could still easily keep up with the other dancers, even though I was much bigger than them.’
By the time she left school Tiffany was already a size 18, but with her heart set on a career in dance she applied for a place at college to study a HND in dance.
She says: ‘ I could see the tutors were surprised by the way I looked when I turned up for my audition.
‘But I put in the best performance I could to prove it wouldn’t get in the way.
‘When I saw how tiny all the other girls were I didn’t get my hopes up.’
But Tiffany was elated when weeks later she heard she had won a place. She says: ‘ I was over the moon and vowed to address my eating and lose weight when the course started.’
But despite advice on what to eat Tiffany was locked in a junk food cycle.
She says: ‘ At college I kept a smile on my face but inside I was hurting because it was embarrassing to be the biggest dancer.
‘I was really self conscious but the only thing that made me feel better was eating.’
After a day in the dance studio burning up to 1000 calories, she would walk home via McDonalds for a supersize meal before going home for a second evening meal with her family.
But the calorie fest didn’t end there and Tiffany would spend the rest of the night tucking into ice cream, chocolate and slurping calorie laden fizzy drinks.
Tiffany said: ‘ It was a vicious circle. I wanted to lose weight to look like the other dancers, but the shame I felt at being the biggest dancer made me comfort eat more and I got bigger and bigger.’
‘I just couldn’t break the cycle.’
And though she held her own in the classroom, shows were always excruciating because she had to accept minor roles and wear specially made costumes in a size 20.
She says: ‘I knew I missed out on the best parts because of my weight, but I understood. I physically could not wear the costumes because you can’t get tutus that big.
‘I would have looked ridiculous.’
In June 2011 she finished her course a size 22 weighing 18 stone 11 pounds. But while fellow students won jobs in the industry Tiffany’s career faltered. She took a job in a call centre.’
She says: ‘ I knew I was never going to make it as a dancer because of my weight.’
But worse still, without dancing at college for eight hours a day she got even bigger.
By the time she graduated five months later in November 2011 Tiffany had gained another stone and was a size 24.
She says: ‘ The ceremony was humiliating because I felt everyone was looking and laughing.
‘I hardly looked like a ballet dancer at a size 24. I think people thought they had called the wrong name.’
But seeing the photos of her big day was the shock she needed to finally take action.
She says: ‘ In the black robes I looked more like a whale than a ballet dancer. Mum and dad put the framed photo on the mantlepiece. Every time I looked at it I felt gutted and vowed to finally lose weight.’
Tiffany started by following her own diet, ditching carbohydrates for a high protein mix of fish, lean meats and vegetables.
It started to work and by May 2012 she’d lost stone and a half giving her the confidence to join a local slimming class called Weight Wise.
She continued to follow a low carb diet and started exercising at the gym.
By August 2013 she’d slimmed down to 11stone 11pounds and a size 12, becoming a class leader.
Determined to help others she decided to combine her dance knowledge with what she had learned about nutrition to become a fitness instructor.
Tiffany said: ‘ I will always love dancing but retraining as a fitness instructor means I can help other people lose weight through dance and chance their lives.
‘One day I want to have my graduation photo-re-shot.’
‘To finally be able to wear a tutu feels amazing. I feel like a real ballerina at last.’
To learn more about how Tiffany lost weight visit http://www.weight-wise.co.uk/