Family

The heartbreaking reason behind K'Lee's resolve to do well on Dancing With The Stars

K'Lee hopes to teach her daughters and other young women to love themselves and to celebrate their bodies.

By Karyn Henger
When K'Lee agreed to join the cast of Dancing With The Stars she knew she was going to be in for a lot of hard work. But what the Mai FM Day host and mother-of-four didn't factor in was how emotional the journey would be.
"So far I think I've cried every week," the former pop star says. "I wasn't expecting it to be this emotional. With sport you just get out there and get your head down and your butt up and go for it."
K'Lee has completed a triathlon and trained for a boxing fight before.
"But with this I've been able to find that little piece of myself. In amongst being a mum, working a job and doing all these other things in my life, I've been able to catch a glimpse of who I am and it's been amazing to just be able to celebrate that."
K'Lee is mum to Illiana, 11, Kahuriki, 10, Kaylam, 4, and Naila, 7 months, and says it can be easy to "forget who you are" when you become a mum.
"The sacrifices you make, it just changes your entire world. But it's so important to keep catching glimpses of yourself through doing things you love."
With each new dance K'Lee has learned, she's found a way to reconnect with herself, and she's also discovered a body confidence she didn't know she had.
"I'm doing cha chas and sambas and I'm shaking my hips and I'm in these incredible clothes... I feel stronger, I feel empowered and I feel beautiful.
"I feel confident in my body and all it can do."
She's proud to be representing "the curvaceous women", and says if there's one thing she hopes her daughters learn from her time on the show it's that you don't have to be "skinny" to be beautiful.
"Beauty isn't about what you look like. It's about mana, strength, kindness, confidence. It's what you exude and what you can share with others."
Watch K'Lee's emotional vlog in which she talks about body confidence, above:
This is a message K'Lee also hopes other young women will take from watching her on the show.
The charity she's dancing for, The Revolution Tour, is an organisation that reaches out to young people to teach them resilience and strategies for life, and it's particularly close to K'Lee's heart because she has a friend whose teenage daughter took her own life.
K'Lee remembers her friend's daughter as a vibrant, confident girl who was an amazing cheerleader. She says she was bullied "because she was beautiful".
"She had beautiful sisters, she had a beautiful family. But she thought that none of it was worth it, I don't want my daughters to ever think that that's not worth it."
It's dancing for a cause - "showing our daughters that there's a bigger picture out there"- that has enabled K'Lee to push through some of her own struggles with learning a new dance each week for the show, often on very little sleep.
Week two was particularly difficult because she and her dance partner Scott Cole found themselves in the bottom two alongside Jude Dobson and partner Matt Tatton-Brown.
"I felt defeated and I'm not one to get down. But I just felt really low after that. This is definitely not easy. I mean anyone can dance, but to dance professionally and be judged professionally."
K'Lee is putting in 26 hours a week to perfect her dances with Scott.
On a typical day she won't even get to the dance studio until the evening - after she's got the kids off to school, done a full day's work, picked the kids up again, helped them with their homework and then cooked dinner for them.
She's also still breastfeeding Naila, who has started teething and wakes every hour, some nights.
She and mum-of-two Nadia Lim - who is breastfeeding her baby River and hit a wall on the show this week, breaking down in tears after having had only one hour's sleep the night before - have become particularly close, sharing their parenting "war stories" with one another.
"It is a struggle and you do hit the wall but there's something about getting to the DWTS set and seeing everybody else, and we're all just trying to pick each other up. You feed off each other's energy and everyone's so supportive.
"In the end you've just got to do what you've got to do because there's a bigger purpose, you can't go out talking and not walk the talk."