Writing

Figure Skates and Foam Fingers

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This morning I stumbled upon this article entitled Kaetlyn Osmond: The Miley Cyrus of Canadian Figure Skating? My interest was piqued not only because I just watched and cheered on Kaetlyn Osmond’s figure skating routine yesterday but the title of this article had me questioning two things: What exactly is a “Miley Cyrus” and, well, is she one? The first thing I noticed about the October 2013 article was the tagline “Sweet Charity routine follows controversial kick on Globe and Mail front page.” What was so controversial about the kick? Was the kick violating some sort of figure skating rule book (I know very little about figure skating)? And still what did that have to do with my beloved Hannah Montana of days gone by?

The kick in question is the one pictured in the photo above, and the kick itself doesn’t appear to be controversial as the hour I spent watching Olympic figure skating routines yesterday seemed to dictate. Kaetlyn’s costume is cute and playful and she’s not swinging from a Wrecking Ball or donning a teddy bear leotard, so why are we comparing her to Miley Cyrus?

The comparison comes from the so-called suggestive photo. According to the article, the public editor of the Globe and Mail “felt a more respectable image could have been used.” The very next line calls her Canada’s Miley Cyrus, for the attention garnered by this rather impressive photo and the choice of music for her subsequent routine. The articles victimize Osmond not only for the “provocative” moves in her routine, but the CHOICE OF PICTURE USED ON THE GLOBE AND MAIL. As if Osmond had anything to do with taking the photo or choosing the photo to use on the front page.

It was at this moment in the article that I became blinded by a feminist rage, egged on by a staggering three week long bout of PMS, and ultimately concluding that I must get my blog together and write a post about it IMMEDIATELY.

Kaetlyn Osmond is an incredibly talented skater. Well, obviously, as they don’t send mediocre athletes to the Olympics. I was proud to watch Osmond take the lead in yesterday’s Ladies Short Program – not that I have any idea what a Ladies Short Program is – while her time lasted, and held on hope that Canada could gather enough points to…achieve whatever the goal was for that round (I literally know nothing about sports, bear with me). Yet, when you do a Google search of Kaetlyn Osmond, among the first 3 suggestions (after “Kaetlyn Osmond Facebook” and “Kaetlyn Osmond Twitter”) is Kaetlyn Osmond Miley Cyrus – and there’s not just one article suggesting this!

I’m definitely not saying there’s anything wrong with being Miley Cyrus. If you know me, you know I am Miley’s #1 fan and would most definitely sell my internal organs for a chance to be at the Bangerz tour. My rage comes from the clear judgement and derision the multiple articles portray at the thought of a young woman showing any type of sexuality.

I took part in dance competitions for a few years in my youth and know firsthand the sexualization our society puts on young girls in performance settings. A good example is the time I was competing with a group number to the song Shop Around and our costumes were literally horrible: a blue latex dress with a turtleneck and over-the-shoe fake go-go boots. Yeah. Terrible. Amongst the sea of beautiful dresses and sparkles and flowing fabrics, crop tops and mini skirts and hot pants, we were mocked by other dancers at competitions and from our very own studio, often to our faces. The pressure even as a 12 year old girl to appear in overly sexual or revealing attire and dance moves far beyond our sexual maturity is astounding. Yet when you, or, rather, your choreographer, conforms to this societal pressure people cry Too Sexual, using words like slut and whore – YES for 12 year old girls who literally have no sexual experience or desire whatsoever, and are just following the routine and costumes provided by adults anyway.

I am outraged at this article (rightfully so, check out this post with great comments from a Facebook group about skating) for three reasons: 1. Choosing a piece of music from a film about prostitution doesn’t suggest that Kaetlyn Osmond is a prostitute, just that she’s using a song depicting a type of dance from a specific era, 2. There’s nothing wrong with Kaetlyn Osmond OR Miley Cyrus showing their female sexuality, and 3. There is literally no comment about Osmond’s talent or ability.

The article makes a good point, not by the author mind you: “‘This is a sport that often goes to both extremes in the images it attempts to evoke,’ wrote [Rosie] DiManno [of the Toronto Star] on Saturday, ‘either making young women look like Lolita children or making adolescents look like seductive courtesans.'” Today’s modern woman is faced with the challenge of balancing the pressure to show our sexuality with the pressure of being looked down on when we do. This is a huge part of Third Wave Feminism: just because women are equal under the law does not mean society treats women as equals and this is what modern feminists advocate for, in part.

This Winter Olympics, I will be cheering on Kaetlyn Osmond and telepathically reminding her that it’s okay to be Miley Cyrus anyways.

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