Eat my ice: Fashion and queerness in figure skating

Figure skating is one of the most swish, lovely and athletically outstanding sporting activities in the Olympics. The scoring itself demonstrates this dichotomy, with the 5 method components — skating techniques, transitions, functionality, composition and interpretation of music — reflecting a balance of creative expression and athletic ability.

Whilst costume high-quality is not specifically reflected in scoring, figure skating is definitely the highlight of Olympic fashion. Skaters consider very long and challenging about what they’ll don on the ice and how it will enhance their performance. How will the fabric movement in relation to their songs? How can sequins, feathers and frills be finest applied? And how much pores and skin do they want to bare?

Even with all the sheer paneling and plunging necklines, the Intercontinental Skating Union, or ISU, has a instead demanding costume code. German figure skater Katarina Witt’s midriff-baring, booty-exposing outfits designed these an intercontinental uproar that the “Katarina Rule” was instituted soon after the 1988 Olympics — hips, midriffs and behinds must now be fully lined.

Over-all, the ISU upholds a “modest, dignified and appropriate” standard by ensuring that a skater’s body is at minimum half covered by their outfits. However, “covered” is a relative time period, as skin-tone mesh will help skaters flirt with the risqué.

And when mainstream manner developments have shifted and advanced in excess of the past handful of many years, skating’s high-priced fashion has stayed stagnant. Sequins and rhinestones peppering stretchy spandex-like substance consider the ice a single after the other. Ladies flip close to in limited, aerodynamic skirts males leap in shirt and trousers-like costumes.

There is certainly often area for innovative expression, specifically in distinct gatherings. The pairs and ice dancing competitions’ ensembles are normally matchy-matchy, in harmony with the routine’s music and topic. Though women are now authorized to don unitards in all functions, the standard, cisgendered, heteronormative developments stay.

At the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Josefin Taljegård of Sweden was the only woman in the individual’s field to have on a one particular-piece. In an job interview with NBC, she said that the pants matched the power of her schedule and songs — it created her feel “confident.”

In the ice dancing competitors, having said that, virtually a third of the pairs showcased a girl in a unitard, most likely since of the ISU’s “street” concept for the event’s rhythm dance. Choreographers and coaches pointed out that “edgier” songs manufactured them really feel like pants were being a much more viable possibility however, all of the qualifying pairs performed in skirts and dresses for the second round’s free dance.

Men’s outfits have also significantly lacked on the aesthetic side. The pairs and ice dancers usually pop, as the dual general performance is considerably a lot more compelling if each the guy and gal are bedazzled. But the men by them selves are normally viewed in very simple black trousers, perhaps with a sprinkle of color or sparkle on major.

This development is a lot more than an extension of manner off of the ice — men’s manner has leaped and bounded ahead in our current TikTok era. Artistry is intrinsic in just determine skating, which is why we really like it. The emotion, the new music, the expression, all of it is inherently artistic and will make skating additional than a activity it’s an artwork.

And art need to not be restrained.

But judgment worms its way into anything. Male determine skating, for the reason that of its artistry and focus on aesthetics, is viewed as “a fairly homosexual-dominated activity, or LGBTQ-dominated activity,” according to (straight) American figure skater Nathan Chen.

Chen gained instant criticism for his poisonous masculinity-infused, homophobic remarks. By demarcating feminity as intertwined with queerness, Chen seeked sympathy that assumptions were being built about his sexuality for the reason that of his prowess within the sport.

This subtly anti-queer sentiment is pervasive throughout figure skating. Most woman determine skaters exercise in sweatpants and leggings, and still really feel pressure to contend in skirts. Women of all ages are normally femme, males skew masc and none of it definitely issues in phrases of the composed guidelines of the sport, athletic overall performance or eventual scoring.

Chen does not, and really should not, have to femme it up to be regarded a major athlete (have you found his quads?). The upcoming of figure skating also does not have to convey a Blades of Glory-esque edge to every opposition. But skaters really should be ready to express their sultry, innovative, sparkly selves nevertheless they want, devoid of anxiety of gender or sexuality-centered discrimination, in and out of the rink.

Speak to Katherine Shok at [email protected].