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misty copeland in under armour’s “i will what i want”

Misty Copeland, one of American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American soloists, has what many considered “the wrong body” for ballet. She is featured in a 2014 women-focused Under Armour ad campaign series called “I Will What I Want.” The commercial shows the ballerina’s skilled dancing and athleticism while a young person’s voice is heard reading a rejection letter to a 13-year old ballet academy candidate (the age at which Misty Copeland started ballet).


What kinds of bodies are considered “appropriate” or “normal” for the ballet world? Which body parts and ages were mentioned in the ad? Does the ad challenge or reinforce these norms?

What images come to mind when you think of a “ballet dancer”? Are the dancers a particular race, ethnicity, or nationality? Are they a particular gender and sexuality? Does this ad challenge and complicate some of these representations?

What product is being sold through this advertisement, and who is the target audience? What values are being communicated and associated with Misty Copeland’s story, and how are the advertisers using it to sell their brand and/or product? How does the ad campaign tagline “I Will What I Want” play in to the messaging?

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