Series: The Shades of Synchronized Skating #1
Posted on January 04 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 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.
Avery Diary Entry #1
Hi, my name is Avery, and I am the team captain of the NEXXICE Junior Synchronized Skating team here in Canada. I have been skating since I was 3 and I am currently in my 9th year with NEXXICE. I am a first-year student at McMaster University, I work part time at a pharmacy, and I am also working towards my coaching certification.
I was super excited to be asked to share my ‘skating tight experiences’ with Get It Called and Aurora Tights. It is an honour to have the opportunity to work with them and be a part of something that may positively impact young athletes who can relate specifically to me.
When they first asked me, I must admit that I immediately assumed they needed negative ‘skating tight experiences; and I really wasn’t sure how my experiences could add any value. I didn’t remember a time where the colour of my tights posed a major problem for me. Being asked to share my experiences though, has actually sparked something inside of me that I haven’t really focused on before. And that is my experience being a person of colour in competitive sport and specifically figure skating. It finally dawned on me that this is exactly the point and why I was asked for my thoughts! Me, Avery, being a person of colour, sharing my experience with others, no matter how dark or light my skin colour is.
So here it goes. You see, I am half Black and half White. My complexion is lighter but not fair and in my opinion, the tights I have worn all seemed to have blended well with my skin tone. I am very lucky, and I do realize that this cannot be said for all, and I do not take my experience for granted.
When I was just working on my singles skating tests and entering the odd competition, I personally chose my own tights, and I can clearly remember there were only ever two shades to choose from; we will just say a lighter shade and a less light shade. So the less light shade it was! Funny how, when you’re told that those are your choices, well you just make do. In hindsight, I can’t imagine how some girls may have felt and I feel really bad for that.
Fast forward to my synchro days, the tight colour I was given was definitely tolerable however, that wasn’t always the case for my teammates. Some would find the tights too light or too dark. Could the tights have been chosen based on a “lovely shade” or the best average match for the team? Either way, I remember having conversations with a few of my closest skating friends who were darker complected than I. We expressed our concern over the tight colour and the mesh on the dresses not being a good match for us all. We wondered how it would appear in photographs later. We would laugh and joke about it with each other, but I realize now that this was likely our way of coping with our own insecurities.
So grateful that Aurora Tights and Get it Called sent me a pair of skating tights! They are specifically chosen by me based on my skin tone. This is a first for me, and I am excited to give them some wear and tear over the next month, create some discussion on the topic and provide you with my thoughts after. I am looking forward to my next check in with you all!
Brianna Diary Entry #1
Figure skating, especially synchro, is seen as a “White” sport, which is a valid stereotype seeing as though there are clearly way more White skaters than skaters of color. Throughout my eight years of synchro, I’ve seen some truth in this stereotype as I’ve come to realize that many of the rules and expectations within the sport are specifically tailored to White skaters, and this often comes at the expense of Black skaters and other skaters of color. At the start of my first prelim synchro season, I was told to order the tan colored tights that everyone was required to wear for competition. Although I didn’t think too deeply about it back then, I was still very aware of how much lighter they were than my actual skin tone. As I got older and became more aware of my appearance, the tights started to bother me more and more. Whenever we took team pictures and I noticed the extreme color difference between my legs and the rest of my body, I just felt awkward and out of place. To me, the lack of darker colored tights reflected a lack of effort to create an inclusive environment for Black skaters, and just further emphasized the notion that synchro was a sport for White people. One of the backbone principles of synchro is that everyone is expected to look the same. Not only should everyone be in sync with one another while performing the program, we’re also expected to look the same appearance-wise. We do our hair the same, we wear the same dresses, and even tape the heels of our skates so that they will match. Because of this expectation to look the same as everyone else, for a long time, I felt that it was probably best for me to just wear the same tights as everyone else otherwise I’d just stand out unnecessarily and feel even more uncomfortable. However, I’ve recently come to accept that as one of the only Black people on my team, I’m inevitably going to stand out and look different from everyone else, so there’s no reason why the color of my legs should look the same as everyone’s when the rest of my body clearly doesn’t. For White skaters, it might be hard to imagine why tights are such a big deal, and I wouldn’t expect you to. It’s difficult to see a perspective outside of your own, and with so few Black skaters within the synchro community, it’s hard to be the one to talk about it. However, this speaks to why it’s so important to have diversity in skating, but this can’t be achieved without putting in the effort to make the synchro world a more inclusive environment. Therefore, as a Black skater currently in the sport, I’m happy to have the opportunity to share my own experience, and hopefully encourage efforts to create an environment in which Black skaters feel comfortable and included, and as a result, attract more Black people to the sport.
Nadia Diary Entry #1
I have been involved in competitive figure skating since I was 6 years old. I started out competing in freestyle where I became a Gold Medalist in Moves in the Field. I then switched to competitive synchronized skating when I was 13. The two styles of skating are completely different and I enjoy both, however, the one similarity is the one shade of tights that were offered at the time. It felt like companies were using a “one shade fits all” mentality, which definitely is not ideal since there are many different skin tones. Looking back at older skating photos of myself, it makes me sad to see that with every dress, the mesh, nor tights were even remotely close to matching my skin tone. This is something that myself, and many others have had to deal with for years. Even when I was younger, I would notice that my dress and tights matched my competitors skin tone, but not my own. This made me feel like everyone was staring at me because nothing matched my skin tone, but that was the only option offered for mesh and tights at the time. This alone could turn people away from wanting to be a figure skater, just the thought that they may not be accepted by others in the sport. It is a lot easier to engage and be a part of something when you see people who look like you partaking in it. Thankfully this did not have any impact on my love for the sport. However, this can and does have an impact on a number of other young skaters. Becoming a synchronized skater was definitely a big switch for me since I had never been part of a team before. The goal of synchronized skating is for every skater on the team to look exactly alike. We train hard and long not only to all execute moves at the same time, but to have the same hair, makeup, and dress. Skating on a team where no effort is made to match dresses and tights to different skin tones is very difficult, and often embarrassing for the skater. It also puts more pressure on the skater to be better than their teammates simply because they stand out more than anyone else. I’m lucky enough to skate on a team that makes
huge efforts to match the mesh of our dresses to my skin tone, but finding tights that match has always been a struggle. For the first time, companies like Aurora Tights are offering apparel that match any skin tone which allows all skaters to feel completely comfortable and confident for the first time. This is a huge step in the right direction for figure skating, and will finally allow all skaters to feel fully confident in their own skin while on the ice.