JENNIE SOMOGYI 29, principal dancer with the New York City Ballet.
I've been a professional dancer for 13 years. I was on pointe at 8 years old, just one year after I started dancing, because my ballet teacher thought I was strong for my age. She told me never to pamper my feet. A lot of dancers tape their toes, but she said I shouldn't: If I was ever without tape, I wouldn't be able to dance.
It's amazing what you can get used to when you're driven to do what you love. I sweat for 13 hours a day. It's repetitive: My feet swell, and my blisters bleed. I used to wear closed-toe shoes and not let anyone see my feet. I have a lot of friends who aren't dancers, and they can't get over what mine look like. But as I got older, I accepted them: This is what I do. Besides, my short, fat, stubby, awful toes make me keep a sense of humor about my body!