Misty Copeland not only holds the title of prima ballerina but also acts as an activist and role model. In her 35 years of life she has broken barriers, defied odds, and destroyed stereotypes as she worked to become the first African American to be a principal dancer for the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. This was not an easy feat, as she was forced to surpass obstacles such as racism and body shaming. She was often told her athletic build and dark skin made her unsuitable to be a ballerina; this did not hold Copeland back but rather inspired her to break through the color barrier previously set by the ballet world.
a Force of Determination
With unlimited amounts of perseverance, Copeland was able to change the face of ballet. Often referred to as a ballet prodigy, it did not take long for her to make her name known in this arena. In 2000 she joined the American Ballet Theatre's studio, which is one of the top three ballet companies in the world. As she climbed the ranks of the prestigious school, racist comments continued to be directed towards her and her capability to succeed in the harsh world of ballet. Right from the start Copeland chose to amaze her critics rather than fall to their level and proved to the world that her short, muscular build, and dark skin would not have any affect on her ability to become a prima ballerina.
a Leader for Social Justice
Today, Copeland not only is a renowned prima ballerina, but also a role model for young dancers, and an activist for black women around the world. She has used the platform she has built with her dance ability to positively impact her followers. Copeland has been featured in numerous publications, endorsements, and campaigns including Under Armor's "I Will What I Want" campaign, which gained worldwide recognition and has been viewed by over 10 million people.
Watch Under Armor's "I Will What I Want" ad featuring Misty Copeland below:
In hopes to inspire young ballerinas of all colors, Copeland gladly shares her story with the world. She vocalizes the confidence ballet has instilled in her by making her opinions, thoughts, and beliefs known regardless of the situation. When Under Armor's CEO, Kevin Plank, made pro-Trump statements, Copeland did not hesitate to vocalize her disapproval of his support. She and other Under Armor athletes, Steph Curry and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, also voiced their disapproval when Plank approved of Trump's efforts to build a wall between Mexico and the United States.
a Role Model for Today's Youth
Copeland was often critiqued for her muscular build, but she proved that other people's hang-ups would not keep her from achieving her dream. Ballerinas are admired for their effortless appearance of fluidity and grace, but Copeland possesses these attributes in the muscular physique of an athlete. She chose to break through the previous confines set by the ballet world and challenge their commonly held aesthetic of what is feminine and beautiful. She is able to dance in the feminine and romantic way in which ballerinas captivate an audience without compromising the beauty and strength of her muscular build. Today, Copeland is even featured as the face of Estee Lauder's Modern Muse Fragrance because of her embodiment of a modern representation of femininity: beauty and grace combined with health and strength.
Along the journey of fulfilling her personal dreams of becoming a ballerina, Copeland was able to defy entrenched prejudices and diversify an entire art form. Although this is admirable achievement on its own, she also continues to use her spotlight not only to inspire, but also give back. She is currently working with charitable organizations and devoting time to mentor young boys and girls who find themselves in the position that a young Misty Copeland once stood, coming from humble beginnings and defying the odds. She encourages and teaches today's youth to face challenges with passion and determination, and rise in the face of adversity regardless of the criticism that they may face along the way.
Below are some prints from our Fine Romance trend, inspired by the femininity and grace of ballet.
from top left: Romance Floral | Sketched Roses | Porcelain Floral | Pink Carnations | Cherry Blossoms | Ditsy Floral | Spring Petals | Wildflowers | Parasols
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Other Sources: Boston Globe | Fashion Unfiltered| Misty Copeland | |NBC News |News One | ABC News
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