Series: The Shade of Synchronized Skating #4
Posted on March 28 2021
The Shade of Synchronized Skating is a project collaboration between Aurora Tights and Get It Called that highlights three synchronized skaters in a self documented series covering the months from November to April. The Shade of Synchronized Skating details the experiences and thoughts of select synchronized skaters of color throughout their season as they transition from team tights to complexion specific tights from Aurora Tights. Along this process, the skaters are self documenting:
1. Thoughts and experiences prior to switching to their Aurora Tights tights
2. Thoughts and experiences during/after switching to their Aurora Tights tights
3. How the skaters feel they have grown, their experiences if it has impacted them or their surroundings, and the reactions of others.
We are excited to share the experiences of these skaters and to bring you all along for the journey! And a special thank you to Avery, Brianna, and Nadia for sharing with us their first hand experiences in the synchronized skating world.
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Avery Diary Entry #4
I can’t believe a year has passed since I last competed. My skate bag sits idly by waiting for its next trip to the rink, as do I. It looks like our region could be heading back to the rink soon, still with many restrictions, such as only 10 on the ice at one time etc. It’s a start and I will consider it a win!
I left you last month with a bit of a challenge and that was to ‘skate a mile in their skates’. I hope you accepted that challenge and considered what your ‘tights’ (hairpiece, dress etc.) would mean to someone who is a different skin colour than you.
As I have spent most of my time considering tight colour, given this project of course; I chose to take a different approach and set my competition lipsticks on the table in front of me. Yes, you are correct, I have saved every lipstick since my very first juvenile competition! It’s a sentimental thing, I guess! As I considered how my lipstick shades would appear on girls of various skin tones, it was apparent that every shade would appear very differently on each girl. So it got me thinking and giggling a bit, why would a synchro team use the same shade of lipstick for all 20 skaters when the shade may look so different on each skater?
Tight colour or lipstick colour, or whatever your “skate a mile in their skates” symbol was, it is apparent that we need to step outside the box, learn from and celebrate our differences and remember that it is our skating skill that should be in sync, not our skin tones.
At this point, I think I have done a pretty good job at avoiding the subject of who I am and how my differences have affected me. I am not at all comfortable talking about myself, but I think the overall goal here is to learn to talk about uncomfortable things until they become comfortable to talk about. It is also important for me to share a little bit more of myself so maybe it will help you relate better with me.
I was born in Toronto and I attended my first 3 years of elementary school in a class where I was one of the ‘whitest’ kids. After grade 1, we moved back to my mothers hometown and I entered grade 2, in a class where every student was white except 2 spanish students and 1 black student (that was me). Being half white and half black, I never considered myself one or the other but it was apparent at each school what I was. I don’t ever remember being treated any differently from
one school to the other, however I can’t help but think that my differences and experiences may have contributed to my personality at the time. I recall in my early elementary years and my first synchro year, that I was extremely quiet and shy. My teacher's feedback without fail, was always
the same as Coach Alyson’s “I would like to see Avery participate more with her class/teammates.” My shyness (maybe insecurities) had me sitting back waiting for others to take the lead. Sometimes, this meant I felt left out whether it be at school or at synchro practice. I would share these moments with my mom and her consistent reply was,“Well that’s too bad Avery, so what did you do to make it better for yourself?” In other words, if your classmate or teammate didn’t ask you to play, did you ask them?
She still uses this strategy on me today when she feels I need it. Sometimes I roll my eyes at her and finish her question for her. I get it though, it’s learning to take that feeling you have and
turning it into a “don't place blame, but place change” mentality. Maybe that is why that shy, introverted girl is now considered a leader in so many respects.
Brianna Diary Entry #4
As I was reflecting on this past month and my experience with my Aurora tights so far, I thought about how much my own perspective of my identity as a black synchro skater has changed over the course of these past few months. My confidence has increased so much, and I have definitely gotten more comfortable with standing out. One thing in particular that came to mind was my hair. Ever since I started skating synchro, I have straightened my hair for every single competition. I don’t think anyone every explicitly told me I had to, but since everyone was expected to wear slicked buns, it seemed like a given. To make things easier, I started wearing my hair straightened for pretty much the whole year except for the summer, when I would get it braided. Even though there was no requirement to wear slicked buns during summer practices, I always felt a little bit out of place because of my braids; I felt like people were judging me for looking so different, maybe even thinking that I looked better with straightened hair. No one ever actually told me this, of course, it was just all in my head. Nevertheless, it definitely affected my confidence. This year however, I’ve noticed an increase in my confidence as I have started wearing braids more often. Since we only had a few virtual competitions this year, I had more flexibility with my hair, so for the majority of the season my hair was braided. But unlike in past years where I’ve felt self-conscious about it, I felt confident. I think that Aurora Tights has definitely helped me with gaining that feeling of confidence in my identity, and being okay with standing out as a black skater. When I wear my Aurora Tights, I don’t have to feel the awkwardness of standing out because my tights are a completely different color than my actual skin tone. Although I still stand out just simply because of the fact that there are so few black skaters, I have grown comfortable with that. Having confidence when you skate is so important, as it can be the determining factor of whether or not you have a good skate. For black skaters, gaining confidence can be difficult, but just as Aurora Tights has helped me, I’m sure it has and will continue to help other black skaters feel more confident on the ice. Although I have not had as many opportunities to wear my tights as I would like because of the lack of skating opportunities during the pandemic, during the few occasions I have worn them, I have definitely noticed an increase in my confidence which positively influenced my performance on the ice. Over the next two months as I continue these documentations, I hope to have more opportunities to wear my Aurora Tights so I can share my experiences, and I will continue to reflect on my personal growth as a black figure skater.
Nadia Diary Entry #4
In my last entry, I discussed how wearing Aurora Tights has impacted me personally, as well as my skating. This entry is going to focus more on the response I have received from others. As I previously stated, I never could have imagined the impact Aurora Tights would have on me and my skating, but I also never imagined that the response from other athletes would be so positive. It’s not that I thought the response would be negative, but that this was a big accomplishment for skaters of color, so I never even considered how others would feel about it. We are all somewhat self-conscious about the way we look. Now imagine that you are being stared at by your competitors because your dress and tights are not the same skin tone as you are. It is not a great feeling, but it is the unfortunate experience that skaters of color have had for years. This is also tough on parents. It is difficult for parents to explain to a young child why other skaters are staring at them without making them feel embarrassed and upset. Obviously, as I got older, I realized why they were staring, and it was because I was wearing a dress that did not match my complexion. It is sad to think that a large majority of skaters of color were only given attention in a negative way from others in our sport until now. Since I was so used to this, that is why I was initially shocked by the amount of love and positivity I received once I made the switch. In my experience thus far, everyone has been supportive of me, as well as the company. Aurora Tights is helping our sport as a whole move closer to becoming more diverse and inclusive. This made me realize that many did not recognize how exclusive figure skating appeared until skaters of color were finally offered apparel that was available in more than one skin tone. People were finally realizing that skaters of color were not getting the same experience as others involved in the sport. When I first wore them to practice, all my teammates were so
happy and supportive of me. They were happy that I finally had tights that matched my skin tone, since they knew how much of a struggle it has been to find mesh and tights that match. The amount of love and support that I was receiving was overwhelming, yet amazing because I had never experienced that before. It is my hope that future skaters of color will only experience the positive and supportive aspect in figure skating, synchronized skating in particular. That they will not have a similar experience that I did growing up in the sport. I’m fortunate enough that my previous experiences did not turn me away from the sport, but it has for so many other skaters. With the help of Aurora Tights, coaches, and skaters educating themselves on the white privilege that occurs in synchronized skating, I believe that this is something the next generation of skaters of color will not have to face.