One would think that as makeup grows more inclusive of tones of Brown that fashion would as well. As little girls, we wore the ashy white sheer tights under our dresses because that was the only option. Then, shades of brown became available later on. But for figure skaters? The struggle to find the perfect shade is not only difficult but discouraging.
Figure skater Louisa Warwin, 28, shared a TikTok video explaining how disappointed she was that the vendors at her skating competition didn’t have tights available for her in her color.
From the TikTok:
“I’m currently in a show and when I got here they had no brown tights for me but all the white skaters had everything they needed available. Now four people from production are running around the city trying to find brown figure skating tights AND THEY CAN’T FIND ANY. THEY ARE NOW DYING WHITE TIGHTS WITH COFFEE. AND IT FAILED. I’ve been figure skating for 21 years and I’m in this situation so yeah skin color and braids matter.”
According to NBC News, Warwin was participating in a show in Birmingham, England when the video was made. The brown tights she brought herself did not meet the requirements for fitting over her boots. The only other option left was a pair of tights several shades lighter than her skin.
Having Ghanaian and Nigerian roots, Warwin is the only Black figure skater to qualify for Norway’s national championship. While her life’s passion inspired her to break barriers in a sport with limited diversity, she said the repetitive inability to find suitable tights often caused emotional discomfort and made her feel unwelcome.
“At this point, I was just so frustrated,” Warwin said. “I couldn’t believe that I was going through this again in 2021.”
Just like dancers and their ballet shoes, it is important for figure skaters to find attire that compliments and matches their skin. However tights for figure skaters are specifically made to allow them to move easily and provide a layer of warmth on the ice, reported NBC.
Additionally, skaters shouldn’t have to provide their own tights. Vendors are present at competitions to give skaters tights that meet the requirements, reported NBC. Unfortunately, at competitions like those in Europe, brown tights are nowhere to be found and sometimes skaters have to take extra time to dye the ones available. Warwin even had a student of her own who raised a concern about the lack of brown-toned tights.
Unable to find tights in her skin tone, Warwin’s student, who is biracial, informed her that during a competition, one of the judges noted that her tights did not match her skin tone. When Warwin’s student tried to inform a Norwegian skate store about their lack of supply for people of color, its response was that since she was a minority in the sport, there was no need for them to have the tights available in her complexion. While the store offered to order the tights for Warwin’s student, they didn’t come in time for the competition — forcing her to wear what was available.
Warwin had some haters in the comments of her video suggesting she should’ve brought her own tights and called it a day. But, the issue-at-large is that the resources readily available to white skaters should also be inclusive of Black skaters too.
Companies such as Brown Skin Essentials or Threads have made it a point to provide tights for shades of brown. Threads founder Xenia Chen echoed Warwin’s concerns for color inclusivity. ““I felt like every time you go to the department store or the drugstore and you’re buying hosiery or tights, what I was seeing on the shelves — there was a huge mismatch between that and what I was seeing in real life,” Chen said via NBC.
Warwin told NBC she wasn’t too worried about the negative comments and was more enthusiastic that she could begin the conversation about this issue for other skaters who experience the same problems.
“I should have never had to bring my own tights - had I brought my own over-the-boot tights, I would have continued the cycle of them not caring about Black skaters. We have to break that cycle, and we have to have them understand that, like, you should have provided to us what you provide to everyone else,” Warwin said via NBC.