Justice

Instagram Post of Ballet Shoes Exposes a Common Problem Women of Color Face

September 9th 2016

By:
Laura Donovan

Ballet comes with a slew of well-known challenges: Early retirement, potentially career-ending injuries, and eating disorders are just a few of the struggles dancers can experience on the job. Dancers of color, however, face a unique challenge in the business: pointe shoes don't come in the shade of their skin tone, as shown in a telling Instagram post by dancer Chyrstyn Fentroy:

The image shows the grueling process Fentroy endured to paint her pointe shoes the shade of her skin color. She told The Huffington Post via email that she posted the photo on Instagram to give fans a window into her experience as a dancer, adding that she's not currently aware of any pointe shoe manufacturers that create shoes in flesh tones.

Ballet manufacturer Bloch, however, stepped in to create slippers for non-white dancers after ballet dancer Eric Underwood posted an Instagram video of him painting his ballet slippers last year. According to The Huffington Post, these slippers have yet to hit the mainstream market.

“If I wear pink shoes, because my skin is not anywhere near the same color, the image I see seems choppy and isn’t as appealing to look at,” Fentroy told the publication. “I love having flesh tone shoes and I really do think that no matter what your skin color is, having shoes that create one continuous line from the top of your leg to the tip of your toe allows the audience to focus on all of the beautiful things your body has as a ballet dancer and not focus on what you are wearing.”

While pointe shoe colors only affect dancers, Fentroy's experience is not unique. Women of color face exclusion with other product lines — from panty hose to make-up.

In an MTV News video earlier this year, several women of color shared how the beauty industry often leaves out women of color. As an example, "The Nightly Show" writer and comedian Franchesca Ramsey squirted "nude" colored makeup cream onto her skin to show that the product was not made with people of color in mind.

Another woman in the video shared how stocking colors can have a similar affect:

Ramsey explained how products like these can make people of color feel bad about themselves:

Last year, writer Kristabel Plummer published a post on BuzzFeed about how she has learned to navigate beauty product aisles as a woman of color, noting that her mother had even fewer product options to choose from a few decades ago:

"I don’t find it hard to shop for make-up because I know the brands that cater for my skin tone and head straight for them. It’s like I’ve filtered out any disappointing experiences and expect each product to be perfect for me, every time. It was a different story in the ’80s for my mum, however, with only Flori Roberts and Fashion Fair to choose from."

Some brands have taken steps to better serve people of color. Earlier this year, designer Christian Louboutin announced a skin tone expansion to his Nude Collection:

Watch MTV News' video below:

[H/T Huffington Post]