A Black ballerina is rejoicing over a new pair of shoes for one important reason.
Kira Robinson is an 18-year-old freshman ballet major at the University of Oklahoma. Robinson shared a video where she unboxed a groundbreaking new pair of ballet pointe shoes. The shoes were a gorgeous satiny brown that almost matched her skin tone perfectly.
Ballet shoes are supposed to be “skin-colored.” But for too long, the default “nude” or “skin color” was pale pink. This meant that non-white ballerinas had to “pancake” their shoes or cover them in a thick coating of makeup foundation to match their skin color.
Not only does pancaking take a while to execute, but it’s also expensive and places an additional burden on non-white dancers who are not as welcomed into the field as their white counterparts as it is.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating and annoying, but it’s just how it is,” Robinson told Good Morning America. “The dance world is slow to accept POC dancers and I’ve just had to deal with it and do what I need to do to perform.”
But Robinson’s viral video shed a light on how things are changing. In the clip, she gleefully opened her first pair of brown pointe shoes by Suffolk.
“I finally got brown pointe shoes,” Robinson said in the video. “I can’t tell you how revolutionary this is that I don’t have to pancake them with foundation to make them my skin color.”
Robinson had always worn pink shoes growing up but when she heard Suffolk had expanded their color range, she made the purchase.
“I think we are seeing more diversity in products because of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Robinson told Good Morning America. “A lot of people were fed up with companies’ lack of effort in diversifying their brand and it has taken a long time to see that change. Many have signed and sent petitions to ballet brands to create more colors in their products and Suffolk was one that heard our plea and started making those changes.”
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