Gigi Crouch proves you can wear a brace and still be a bunhead.
by Jessica Duncan
One of Gigi's many gorgeous Instagrams Scrolling through Gigi Crouch's Instagram is tantamount to a trip backstage at the balletâ€”there she is in a gravity-defying leap; there are her impeccably arched feet; there's her superhuman stretch. But Gigi is more than your average dancer, as a closer look at her photos reveals: There she is, smiling at the camera in a blue and purple back brace.
Like Elettra Wiedemann, Gigi was diagnosed at age thirteen with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and prescribed years in a brace. "At least baggy clothes are in style!" she told her mom at the time. Thanks to advancements in brace design (Gigi wears what's called a Rigo System ChÃ©neau 20 hours a day, except when she's rehearsing), her overall attitude is equally optimistic. "My friends and I always joke that because of my brace I have abs of steel," she says, laughing, "so I drew stomach muscles on it with a Sharpie."
Gigi had just begun intensive ballet training when she was diagnosed but quickly realized her condition could be an advantage, not a handicap. "I feel like girls with scoliosis tend to have hypermobility," she explains of her jaw-dropping leg lifts, which helped earn her a highly coveted spot at this year's School of American Ballet summer program in New York City. "I wouldn't trade my scoliosis if I had to trade my flexibility with it!" And she's eager to open the eyes of other "curvy girls" to their potential hidden power. "I want to show them that this doesn't have to get in their way," she says. It's a promise she intends to keep: After a career as a ballerina, Gigi wants to be a physical therapist. There, surely, she'll have more than just a leg up.