ET exclusively spoke with the 27-year-old dancer via Zoom on Thursday to discuss her adorable new capsule collection with Ivy City Co. During the interview, she also addressed what it was like taking a season off to give birth to her baby girl, Sage, with husband Sam Cusick, and if she's ready to make her way back into the ballroom this fall.
"So, I have every intention of coming back!" Arnold, who is five months postpartum, exclaimed to ET's Desiree Murphy. "I am ready to go, I feel good, I want to dance again, I'm super excited about it. But as you know, us pros don't really get to decide if we come back. We can say we want to do it, but at the end of the day, [producers] have to ask us back on the show, which doesn't happen until the last hour, I swear."
"But that is my plan. I would love to be back on the show and I cannot wait to get back to dancing," she continued, adding that she'll definitely say "yes" if she gets the call from production. "And I just miss it. So I am so in ... I'm ready to do it!"
Arnold said that if she were to compete for season 30 and take home the mirrorball trophy, she would obviously dedicate it to baby girl Sage. "I think Sage would be really disappointed in her mom if she doesn't win," she joked. "So, c'mon, we gotta do it! Bring it home for Sage! I gotta win as a mom now. It's gotta happen."
The season 25 mirrorball champion also teased whether or not her BFF/fellow pro, Witney Carson, wants to return after having a baby of her own. Carson welcomed her first child, son Leo, with husband Carson McAllister in January.
"I think she's in the same boat as me," Arnold shared. "And it's so good because we both have had a good amount of time. It was nice we had our babies and it's not like the season was the next week or the next month; I don't know if I would have been ready for that at that point. I really, really appreciate that I've had this time with Sage, and that she'll be older by the time when I'm doing that. I feel like it's a little more possible to make happen."
"And Witney and I both love that show," she added. "It will always have a special place in our heart and I know we both missed it last season. It's been so fun because we've had this whole new phase in our lives, but I know that is always going to be there. That's always going to be a passion of ours and something we love to do."
If you've been following Arnold and Carson on Instagram over the past few months, then you've probably seen plenty of their posts celebrating body positivity. Arnold declared via Instagram last November that she "never felt more proud" of her body after giving birth, but admitted to ET that she definitely feels some pressure over the thought of potentially returning to the ballroom.
"Having a C-Section changed everything for me as far as recovery," she explained. "I had to make sure my incision was OK, and then even after six weeks, you're not supposed to do ab movements for awhile because your abs are still healing. That was definitely something I don't think I was prepared for. I had no idea what to expect and I really had to listen to my body."
"I don't want to say that my job is my body, but I use my body to do my job. I'm on TV in front of lots of people that are watching me dancing, and we're wearing costumes that are more revealing than just sweatpants and a T-shirt that I can wear at home," she continued. "So that's definitely something that's in the back of your head. In order to do my job, I have to physically be able to do it. I need to be physically fit, I need to feel good and I want to look good. That's just something that's ingrained in dancers' brains."
Arnold said there's been two key factors that have really helped her throughout her post-pregnancy journey: changing her mindset, and creating her own workout program, "Move With Linds."
"My body is different, and I think it will always be different, but I'm so grateful for it," she exclaimed. "Because I look at Sage and I'm like, 'You are the result of everything that has changed in my life and you're more than worth it.' I would do it a million times over again if that meant I got to have Sage.'"
"I'm so grateful that that's something we, as women, can talk about now, and celebrate. Not that people haven't been proud of their postpartum bodies before, but I feel like no one talked about it," she continued. "I really want to change that and remind women that it's OK to change. Your body's going to change, we're all going to change ... I truly feel that, me now, as a mom, my new postpartum body with the new changes and everything, I am a better person and I want to embrace that as much as I can."
She added that "Move With Linds" has also been "such a motivator" for her postpartum: "I feel like that's why I've been able to feel good now, and feel like, 'Oh, yes, I could totally go back to the show. I can do this, and I'm happy where I'm at in my body.'"
"I have been dancing in my house, in the living room, so it feels like I've been dancing, but I haven't actually gone to a dance studio yet," she revealed. "It doesn't make me nervous though, it makes me really excited. I'm interested to see if it's different. Like, I might have a totally different experience now, as my body has changed a lot. Maybe that will open up some new things for me in the dance world."
Speaking of new ventures, Arnold couldn't be more excited to chat with ET about her latest "dream project," a capsule collection with Ivy City Co. that's launching April 29 (just in time for her first Mother's Day!).
The collection is themed around family and motherhood and has three unique styles, all available in adult, mini and baby sizes for moms and their mini muses. "From the second I opened the envelope and found out Sage was a girl, I'm like, 'I absolutely have to do a mommy and me dress collection,'" Arnold recalled. "Literally I don't think I've ever been more excited about a project than I am about this one. I got to dream up what I want to wear and match my little baby daughter in. Like, that is the dream for me!"
Arnold told ET that she was secretly working on the project all throughout quarantine, and started designing the actual dresses right before Sage was born. She put together inspiration boards on Pinterest, and worked with the "incredible women" behind the female-founded company to make her dream collection a reality.
"I'm no dress designer by any means. I mean, I've designed a couple ballroom costume dresses but it's usually rhinestones and we didn't do any of that here!" she joked. "I was so grateful to work with them because I sent them my picture ideas and they brought it to life in a way I never would have imagined."
If that's not cute enough, the designs were named after the three "most important women" in Arnold's life: "Sage" (her daughter), "Mindy" (her mother) and "Jill" (her late mother-in-law). "All of the dresses are so meaningful to me and have purpose," Arnold explained. "It's been so special, sharing this with the people I love most."
The pictures you see throughout this article are all from the campaign shoot, which Arnold says was inspired by Bridgerton. The stunning images also feature Sage and Mindy, along with Arnold's three sisters, Jensen, Brynley and Rylee.
"I still have dreams of that day. I will cherish that day, and those photos, forever," Arnold gushed. "This was Sage's debut photo shoot and I was a little nervous because I knew it was going to be a long day. We were there for like three and a half, four hours and it was like, she's the star, so she had to be on."
"Honestly, she was a rockstar!" she added. "It was so fun. She did a great job, and I was so proud."