Ballet star Misty Copeland, who has been a voice for diversity and inclusion in ballet, is taking her efforts beyond the studio and stage — and straight to your phone.
The American Ballet Theatre principal dancer called on Apple to expand its emoji keyboard to better represent Black ballet dancers and dancers of color. In a video shared on TikTok and Instagram last week, Copeland told viewers that Apple has only a pink pointe-shoe emoji and encouraged them to sign her change.org petition asking for more color options.
"In an era where Apple showcases diversity across its emoji spectrum, why is the pointe shoe left behind?" Copeland wrote in her petition.
She added: "This petition isn't just about an emoji. It's about ensuring the art of ballet, in all its forms, celebrates every dancer's story and shade."
Copeland's request comes days after she shared a video from her MasterClass program. In the clip, she opened up about matching "European pink" pointe shoes to her darker complexion.
"I think that's kind of a subtle and subconscious way of, I think, excluding brown and Black dancers," she said of the traditional pink satin material.
Until recent years, it was up to Black and brown dancers to make their pointe shoes match their skin tone. The process, known in the ballet world as "pancaking," meant that dancers would paint or apply makeup foundation onto their pink satin shoes.
In the comments on her TikTok video, Copeland noted that the MasterClass clip was filmed pre-pandemic and that a number of dancewear companies have since created different shades of pointe shoes. Major pointe-shoe brands including Bloch, Gaynor Minden and Capezio have been among the retailers to include a variety of shades in their lineups.
"This is an important show of inclusivity and welcome-ness and I want to encourage Apple to join by creating the many tones of the pointe-shoe emoji," she said in last week's post before encouraging followers to sign her petition.
As of Monday, Copeland's petition had garnered more than 19,000 signatures.
"Every signature brings us one step closer to a world where ballet, both on the stage and in digital spaces, reflects all of us," Copeland wrote.
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