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Winter Olympics 2022

5 years ago, 3 women provided tights for black skaters- today Olympic figure skaters are wearing them

Five years ago, 3 former skaters provided a missing product, tights for black performers. Now Olympic figure skaters are wearing them at the Beijing Olympics

Update:
Five years ago, 3 former skaters provided a missing product, tights for black performers. Now Olympic figure skaters are wearing them at the Beijing Olympics
JEFF PACHOUDAFP

In 2017, two synchronized skating coaches in Maryland, Imani Rickerby and Jasmine Snead, noticed a problem with their preteen and teenage athletes; they would fall apart during competitions, with clearly no self-confidence before they even took the ice.

The coaches, who are both black women, knew exactly what these girls were dealing with, both emotionally and competitively: they did not feel like they belonged. The reason Rickerby and Snead understood that is due to having experienced that same feeling when they were athletes.

“I didn’t feel like I belonged in the sport at all,” Rickerby told reporters. The now 26-year-old remembers her childhood teammates’ matching tights and makeup and how they complimented their complexions, while hers didn’t. So Rickerby and her sorority sister at the University of Maryland, and former dancer Sydney Parker, started to buy dyes from craft stores and mix the colors with vinegar in their apartment to match their skin tones.

Shades of change

Years later, after all three former dancers worked tirelessly to make performance tights more accessible to athletes, they officially launched ‘Aurora Tights’ on March 7, 2019, with three shades, each named after a performer who inspired it. 

Today, their start-up has become the country’s “ most inclusive hosiery brand, designing tights for hundreds of figure skaters, dancers, cheerleaders and gymnasts,” including Olympians.

The brand now offers six color shades mimicking the skin tones of some of their brand ambassadors and naming the shades after those athletes, rather than “types of coffee or things that you eat,” says Parker. “We don’t want to ever objectify people by what color their skin is.”

Olympic female skaters wear ‘Aurora’s tights'

Team USA pairs skater Ashley Cain-Gribble, who is competing in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, is representing the U.S.A in 'Aurora tights' at the moment.

Team Canada pairs skater Vanessa James and two-time Olympian Maé-Bérénice Méité are also brand ambassadors, and U.S. skater Starr Andrews has her own shade of hosiery on the company’s website. In Netflix’s limited series “Inventing Anna,” the faux heiress’ friend Neff wears Aurora Tights in multiple episodes, the hosiery company says.

Aurora’s vision: inclusivity, Athleticism, and Sisterhood

The vision behind Aurora wasn’t only to end a vicious cycle of monoculturalism, but to pave the way for a better future for athletes, build a community for all, and most importantly empower performers tobring their own light to the stage.”

Here is how the company defines their side hustle, “the name Aurora is a play on the Aurora Lights. An aurora, sometimes referred to as northern lights, is a dynamic natural light of brilliant lights that appear as curtains, rays, spirals or dynamic flickers covering the entire sky. Since its inception, Aurora has empowered performers to bring their own dynamic color and light to the stage. Aurora creates an inclusive space for all athletes to perform in color.”

Absolutely beautiful

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