Over the holidays I caught up on my movies so I went to see I, Tonya in the plush Cinepolis theatre.
(Side note I love how elevated theatre going has gotten with reservable recliners and food service almost at a restaurant level. Just having way less people in the theatre I find is super luxurious and relaxing. Almost like first class on a plane.)
Anywho, I ended up watching I, Tonya and found it to be funny, but also insightful. I remember being glued to the Olympic figure skating as a teenager and saw the whole fiasco play out. I watched them skate live and loved seeing all the beauty, poise, grace, and stylish costumes.
I remember thinking Nancy Kerrigan was like a skating Grace Kelly. She was so poised and calm. I also remember not loving Tonya. She seemed less feminine and too athletic for my taste. I honestly didn’t like her or her look. She rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time.
I followed up the movie about a week later by watching the ABC special which interviewed Tonya and I got more perspective on the matter. What struck me was both the movie and ABC emphasized how different Tonya was and her sheer talent as a powerful skater.
They kept bringing up the fact that she was the first female skater to land a Triple Axel and how rare that was. Both showed her as an outsider to the skating world and not liked by the judges.
At one point she wanted to know why she wasn’t getting the scores she believed she merited based on her skating. Finally a judged clued her in that appearance, presentation, and her lack of a happy family reflected in her overall scores. Basically IMAGE matters and she wasn’t counting on that. She was focused on just her talent.
The ABC special made it became clear that Nancy was from no better of a family, but had mastered the art of IMAGE and poise. She was raised in a blue collar family and in 2010 her father and brother were involved in a violent altercation and her brother went to jail.
Now with many years of style expertise and knowing what I do about the power and language of color, it’s clear that Nancy knew how to become one of America’s sweethearts while hiding her snotty attitude about not coming in first place.
Her costumes reflected and projected an angelic image. White is a symbol of virginity and purity.
Nancy wore white, nude, black, red, bascially classic colors only. A couple times she wore a Vera Wang custom skating costumes. Aligning her image with purity. Whose master plan was this? Who is to know..
While Tonya tended to wear bright neon and bright cheap looking colors. Her costumes were often made by her and her style was more street, punk, or shocking to the eye. Fake low cleavage with mesh inserts. Hair big and high. Tacky and colorful eye shadow but frankly, a trend of the times. Her embellishments were often overly sparkly.
The International Skating Union, which governs the sport, has ruled that skaters’ clothes cannot be “theatrical.”
If I had to use two words to describe Tonya’s style it would be: Cheap and tacky.
Tonya wanted to stand out and be in your face.
I don’t think Tonya ever thought about the visual message she might be sending to the world.
And so I see that this contributed to her demise. While Nancy’s style and image helped her rise. Was she without faults, no, but she was better at disguising them.
Tonya Harding vs Nancy Kerrigan which the press made out to be evil vs good in my opinion was just a battle of image, style, and popularity.
Nancy certainly mastered the art of winning over the public with her image and style. This allowed her to be the more successful athlete and be seen as the victim. Despite the fact that she had a bad attitude about not getting first place in everything. She was not perfect.
How do I know that Nancy was a master of planning her outfits and messaging?
She wore the same white skating costume as the day she was clubbed to an the olympics practice session February 17, 1994 sending a very strong message to mess with Tonya’s head.
So how does this all relate to you, the real woman?
Understand that style can be your secret weapon and if you ignore it, you may lose.
If you’re up for a job promotion as partner, how much money you stand to earn if you get that job? A couple extra hundred thousand? A million more?
And isn’t it worth an investment in an upgraded look that helps you be the woman that gets the promotion?
Your return on investment could be 10, 20, or 100 fold. And you will feel different.
My clients often relay the experience is priceless.
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