The news: Misty Copeland is a prima ballerina. She’s also the face of Under Armour’s stunning new ad campaign.
Under Armour, which typically features commercials starring bulky football players and track stars, has pegged Copeland to be the face of its new “I Will What I Want” campaign, a play on the brand’s “I Will” tagline. It’s part of their big push into womenswear.
The ad is amazing for a whole host of reasons. For one, it completely shatters the notion that ballet isn’t a sport. It features a woman who is a true role model, and it shows the real nature of the craft. Copeland is not dolled up in a tutu and stage makeup — she’s sweaty and and laser-focused, just like any other sport.
Who is Misty Copeland? She’s a dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. She’s also just the third African-American soloist in the company’s history.
She faced a tough road growing up. She began dancing at the age of 13, which in ballet is almost unheard of; most pros get their start at the age of five. She is also a woman of color, and ballet has historically included very few people of color within its ranks.
She also has a different body type than is usually seen in ballet; she has bigger breasts and feet and more muscular legs, as ESPN noted. "It was hard to survive," Copeland told them.
This ad is different. We’ve seen the popularity of using women’s empowerment as a trading chip in various commercials — Mic’s Liz Plank points out the misguidedness of this. But as Barbara Lippert, a former ad critic at Adweek, told the New York Times, “[Copeland’s ad] doesn’t feel forced and manipulated and the same old, ‘We can do it, gals,’ sort of thing, and it’s not like another Dove commercial promising you confidence.”
In other words, it’s not a commercial asking women to change what they’re doing or promising them something that will make them “better.”
It’s highlighting an inspirational figure in a beautiful way — and that’s something we should all celebrate.