Is Ladies Skating Becoming Too Femme?
I´ve noticed the almost complete dominance of balletic-style skating over the last few years. Everyone seems to be using wispy arm movements, little pointy hand jesters. The costumes are filmy and full-on make-up is the norm. There has always been this but there were other styles as well. Kerrigan (yes, she was made up and Vera Wang clad) was graceful but her jesters were strong and lines clean - more like modern dance . Kwan displayed lovely lines but was essentially athletic.
Skaters like Alissa Czisny natually have this soft quality and it is beautiful to watch. But, many of today´s women seem uncomfortable out there. You can almost see them trying to make each move look feminine. It must be distracting for an athlete.
There are politics here as well. If you want to be on that podium you better be built like a Paris fashion model. I´m not sure i would want to encourage a daughter into a sport that has such a narrow view of feminine beauty. It seems retro. I don´t think athletics, artistic gymnastics or diving holds such a narow view. Here´s hoping a place will open up again in figure skating for women who carry themselves beautifully, flaunt their strength and not have to appear the femme fatale.
Six Point Zero
It's largely because those who stray from the "feminine" style get attacked more these days. Anyone who doesn't look, move and have lines like a skinny prima ballerina is considered deeply flawed. Rachel Flatt got a heaping full of this even though she consistently (for a while at least) landed 7-triple programs. Even Yuna gets a lot of flack for not being the perfect ballerina with pointed toes and legs stretched up 180-degrees. Conversely, those with lovely "feminine" style are given lots of sympathy/leeway for flaws and weaknesses, because they are "artistic".
There's nothing wrong with being super feminine, but I agree, there's a dearth of variety of expression in figure skating. The judges of ladies figure skating don't seem to like women playing characters or stepping out of the "traditionally feminine" ballerina box. It's sexist, gender-essentialist, and very limiting artistically. I sometimes think Ashley Wagner's skating would work better if she dropped the R&J/S&D stuff and went out in a black batwinged pantsuit to the strains of Night on Bald Mountain. Playing Chernobog, of course.
Gracie Gold is a prime example of why the mandatory pretty princess model should be shelved: her programs this year are both super-femme and rather delicate, and she doesn't fit them. At all.
On the flip side, there's men's skating's "butch" problem - this is especially prevalent with American skaters. Jason Brown and Adam Rippon are both artists on the ice but they get slammed on boards for being "too feminine." That's borderline homophobic and very narrow-minded.
Who are these skaters with lovely "feminine" styles who are given lots of sympathy/leeway for flaws and weaknesses, because they are "artistic"?
Originally Posted by Krislite
I was wondering that, too.
Originally Posted by chloepoco
Alissa Czisny springs to mind.
Originally Posted by chloepoco
You left out Dorothy, Lynn, Witt, Henie and others. They were not princesses. I think some of the blame belongs to the choreographers. It takes courage, but skaters need to be who they are; otherwise, there movements look forced and unnatural. Somewhat OT: we have these generic movements that seem to get adopted by many skaters. Quite a few are hand-me-downs from Kwan who got them from Lori. I cringe every time I see that hand sliding across the back of the neck movement. Maybe as younger judges enter the judging field things will change, but I probably won't be around then. lol
This is an interesting question. I am trying to get a grip on what "femme" means exactly. Mao Asada and Sasha Cohen are two tough cookies who were/are successful doing graceful. Cute-as-a-button Irina Slutskaya took no prisoners. Gracie Gold? -- ditch the pink dress, you'll be fine.
Irina would not fit my model of "femme" if I'm understanding what the OP is intending to convey.
Originally Posted by Mathman
She was powerful, and she made it work to her advantage (even if she was never a great favorite of mine).
Likewise, Midori Ito didn't priss around the ice (and she WAS a great favorite of mine).
I guess I see what you mean, which I think is this: Skaters need to be who they are, go with their strengths, that sort of thing. And who can disagree?
It's sad but true, I find myself also that the ladies skating become to femme :(
I coach some girls at the rink and I fell bad for them, to teach them to not be herself and trying to be more graceful and feminine in their skating :(
Unfortunately, if I teach this way, it's because we see that the judge tend to favor the girl who are more beautiful and soft.
I wish that the judge appreciate also other type of girl and music, but it seems to be impossible to them.
It's the mentality of the sport unfortunately :(
In an other side, in the men skating, I wish that the coach try to be honest with their guy and don't treat them like a girl!
Having been skating for 14 years, I think it's sad to see that some choreographers and coachs make their male skater effeminate in their movements.
By being treated as girls, I find that these skaters lose the impression that they are men and end up having an imaginary personality which is strange (like a Brainwashing).
A man should never break his wrists in movement, I do not understand why a lot of coach lets pass that and make them look feminine.
Off the ice
I am honestly at a loss as to how you have arrived at your conclusions. Who are you watching that makes it appear as though ladies' skating is all about having the same style and everyone is looking to be "wispy" and "too femme" (whatever you mean by either term)? Yuna Kim is too fierce for that, Kostner and Suzuki have a much greater range, Ashley Wagner has too much attack, Mao Asada has done tinkly stuff along with other concepts. I don't feel like Kaitlyn Osmond is being pushed into a mold (and Rochette was so strong and fit, she looked amazing - still does). Model-perfect Kiira Korpi has made some surprisingly quirky program choices in the past. Looking at the Russians, this description doesn't fit Leonova, or Tukt, or even Sotnikova (Aguilera, balletic. ha.), and not all of the younger generation, though they are still developing their style. It can't be Marchei, Gedevanshvilli, or Meite, and the Helgessons are too voidy.
Originally Posted by karlowens2
If anything, the ladies are showing more personal style and originality than the men. "Pretty ballerina" is not a label I would apply to most skaters today, nor do all that many seem to strive for it, at least not as their only option. I don't think so many of them are distracted by trying to look feminine, so much as many are probably struggling to be IJS-friendly - which does demand effort and concentration. And really, I'm surprised that Kwan is being used as an example of an athletic skater. I would actually classify Kwan as far more traditional in terms of her skating style than many of today's top competitors, though she did have a lot of original music choices.
Makeup has long been the norm, and most of the ladies do a very tasteful job with it, considering that it needs to be somewhat theatrical to really be seen from a distance. Competitors can now wear pants if they wish, though I'll allow not many do, and while some costumes look like bridal on ice, many competitors opt for bold colors and otherwise interesting looks.
The suggestion that WAG encourages a healthier body image than skating, considering the well-documented issues that sport has had in terms of disordered eating and abusive coaches, is strange. Not to mention that competing in a leotard is more revealing and restrictive as a costume than what skaters wear.
I am sure that many young girls do get into skating because of the pretty ice princess fantasy. But I don't think that's enough to sustain a serious skating career, nor does it seem to be the motivation at the higher levels of the sport.
In sum: I disagree with almost your entire post. I will agree that it helps to be good looking (in all skating disciplines, not just ladies), and that a certain type of physique can be conducive to success, though that's more likely because it is conducive to successful jumping/lifts/whatever than because it's a requirement. BTW, not a single lady looks like a Paris fashion model, because they are all too short.
p.s., not the OP but a note for anyone who wants to complain about men's skating or specific competitors being feminine or effeminate: please stop. There is no one right way to skate, whether you are a man, woman, pair, ice dancer, synchro skater or theater on ice performer. Narrow-mindedness is not good for skating as a sport or an art.
Originally Posted by Buttercup
(I tremble to post again on this topic after Buttercup's blockbuster , but...)
Originally Posted by TontoK
Irina always seemed like a girly-girl to me. More so than Michelle, for sure. Here she is at the peak of her feminine wiles.
Of course there is always the possibility that I am confusing girly-girl with tomboy.
It doesn't bother me at all. I think it's a generation thing- this generations seems to be more aware musically of what works well on the ice and what can help as vehicles for artistry. Perhaps its the dominance of Asian skaters who are naturally lithe and more graceful and 'femme'- but even they have displayed complexity beyond a caricature of a ballerina. Yuna Kim (obv), Asada's exhibitions, her 2010 LP and a few other programs explore a darker more gothic turn, hell- even Miki Ando who is tone deaf can be 'graceful' at times. BUT, it's not a bad thing. It's an aesthetic sport so what would you expect?
You have skaters like Osmond and Wagner who capitalise on their panache for programs with attitude but even theirs are 'femme' but of a different kind.
I can see where the OP is coming from but even Tonya performed 'girly' programs. Even Surya showed flashes of femininity of the ice. Is it a question of power versus grace? because femininity can convey both, but this is ladies' skating. You can hardly blame these girls for not skating like men.
Personally I think you can easily spot skaters who aren't naturally graceful. Those who 'try' to emulate the 'femme-ness' fail because it is not organic, and that's probably what makes the difference more prominent. It's not a matter of skating against type, but that skaters should skate to WHATEVER they like and HOWEVER they like.
What I have found is with skaters who haven't found the right type of music for them, the default is always "pretty princess" programs. For the most part, they don't stand out unless they are absolutely ethereal like Mao or Michelle. Yuna is someone who takes a lot of risk with her music choices and they always seems to work. Kristina Czako and Olga Markova are other skaters who had some success with quirky programs.