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Old 30th July 2008   #1
HSG
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Default Emily Hughes


Figure skating is similar to the fashion world (and to ballet, for that matter) in at least one unfortunate way: most female figure skaters, like the majority of models, are terribly underweight.

Anorexia is rampant throughout the skating profession, and coaches have been known to subject their performers to severe food deprivation, leading to body-diminishment. This is particularly tragic because skaters begin training in youth, and their careers flourish in their teens--exactly when their bodies are beginning to mature. It is the worst possible time for their naturally-increasing weight to be turned into some kind of "issue."

This systemic malnourishment also severely undermines the skating art. Many people who would enjoy the elegant movements and feminine grace of the routines are repelled by the ghastly sight of the performers themselves. Female skaters seem brittle and frail. Their limbs are spindly, like matchsticks. Their bones jut out through their skin.

These emaciated physiognomies are repellent, and distract from the performances, inhibiting audience enjoyment. The skaters' bony appearances make them seem cold--almost an extension of the chilly ice environment in which they perform. They come off as somewhat inhuman, like plastic marionettes. Watching them is like seeing tiny machines in motion--and there is nothing appealing in watching the regulated, repetitive movements of a machine.

When they perform flawlessly, it is simply efficient mechanization. When they make an error, it is no more affecting than a malfunction in the gearing.

* * *

However, there is at least one brilliant and beautiful young lady who offers a much-needed antidote to the skating world's emaciation epidemic, a skater who brings warmth and vitality to the profession: a 19-year-old Olympian named Emily Hughes.

So there are no misconceptions, let us be clear: this is a matter of perspective. Emily is still very slim. However, in comparison to her rivals, she (and she alone, among all top female skaters) does possess something approaching a figure, with very shapely legs.

In Emily's past performances, prior to 2008, (from the Olympics, and from other national and international competitions,) she did not appear markedly different from other figure skaters--simply not quite as thin, not quite as skeletal as her rivals. And yet even then, even during her smaller days, she generated buzz throughout the skating world for her relatively healthy appearance (rather the way that a size-8 fashion model might be regarded relative to corpse-like size 0s and size 2s).

But last semester, Miss Hughes enrolled at Harvard University, and started to enjoy different pursuits besides skating. Perhaps she stopped torturing herself as much as she had in the past, or perhaps her Irish heritage asserted itself and resolved to make her figure more attractive, but the result is that today, Emily is as close to being a skater with curves as we are ever likely to see.

Her unexpected beauty was vividly on display three months ago, at an annual Boston skating event called "Ice Chips," where a fan captured two brief videos of Emily's performances, and posted them on YouTube. In the more notable of the two numbers, Miss Hughes skated to a Celine Dion song called "Taking Chances." The clip is just over a minute long, and you can watch it here:

- Click to watch ''Taking Chances''

The skater's robust figure endows her performance with a corporeal, human quality that is otherwise absent from figure skating. There is an alluring weight to her movements, a "heaviness" (a term that the skating community frequently uses to describe her style) that makes her performance captivating, and very sensual.

The video features many moments of Emily looking fluid and graceful,

verily like a ballerina on ice.

Watch as Emily spins like a gyroscope, her body forming undulating shapes in the air as she turns.

Don't miss the many highly original touches, such as a moment at 00:13 when Emily taps one skate against the other, like Dorothy clicking together the heels of her ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz.

But from the perspective of curves, the most appealing moment comes when she does a pass by the camera.

The angle shows off the shapely fullness of her legs.

Skating costumes are invariably frilly and feminine, and Emily--admirably--designs her own outfits. This pretty costume very effectively frames her contours.

Whereas most skaters are little better than stick figures on ice, Emily is a shapely, beautiful woman,

with legs that would put many a plus-size model's to shame.

* * *

The second number that Emily performed at the Ice Chips show was very different--and a real departure for a figure skater. Whereas most girls skate to selections of classical music, for this event Miss Hughes chose a hip-hop song called "Low" (also known as "Apple Bottom Jeans"). She undoubtedly chose this number to underscore her curvaceous beauty, as the song describes an alluringly-proportioned vixen at a dance club whose movements capture every man's eye. There is even a particular line in the song that celebrates a physical feature which Tyra Banks often praises in curvaceous models. (Look up the lyrics for yourselves to find out which.)

The link to the video is here:

- Click to watch "Low"

Notice how cleverly Emily adapts her skating technique to suit the genre of the music, even incorportating hip-hop movements into the routine.

And here is a photograph of Emily in her non-traditional "Low" costume, specifically chosen for the song. Note that in another effort to display her sensual contours, she donned extremely close-fitting tights.

Watching both videos, one cannot help but be charmed by the joy that emanates from Emily. Whereas other figure skaters' smiles seem cemented on and strained, masking their grim determination, Emily is genuinely delighted with herself on the ice. She radiates warmth and pleasure, in contrast to other skaters' frosty demeanours. She seems . . . playful (an utterly irresistible quality), like she is having a good time, and to watch her is to participate in the fun.

* * *

Those "Ice Chips" videos are by far the most attractive presentations of Emily's beauty currently available, and the only shame is that they are excerpts rather than complete videos. Many longer clips of Emily's skating are available at YoutTube, with one fine example of a full-length Emily performance being this one from 2007. Although Miss Hughes was unfortunately thinner in that video, the enthusiasm and artistry of her performance still make it delightful to view. The music is contemporary, though, so if you prefer, turn the sound off, and just observe her amazing movements.

And as an added bonus, here is Emily on The Rachel Ray Show from earlier this year:

- Emily on Rachel Ray

Intriguingly, she talks about her love of baking . . .

* * *

It is likely that no plus-size beauty will ever be allowed to become a top figure skater. However, Emily Hughes is at least one performer who doesn't look like a concentration-camp survivor, but has a more naturally-proportioned body. She is a one-woman antidote to figure-skating emaciation, a refreshing and much-needed change from the androgynous, malnourished look that is otherwise universal in the skating world.

Beyond that, she also has an exuberance, a joie de vivre that her skating rivals lack--and this too is no doubt due to the fact that she doesn't starve herself as they do, but actually enjoys a good meal. (In fact, she received the announcement that she would be competing at the Olympics when she was out for dinner with her family.)

Emily is a splendid role model for young skaters, and for young girls in general, showing them that they don't need to become anorexic automatons to pursue their dreams, but can be healthier, happier, and more beautiful at a fuller, more natural size, and can have fun with their art rather than torturing themselves into a mechanized state. Let us hope that she achieves even greater prominence in her profession, and continues to provide such a wonderful example for young women today.

* * *

For anyone who wishes to see Miss Hughes in a live performance, she will be skating at the following events later this year:

"Skate for Hope" (Aug. 30, '08)
Columbus, OH

"U.S. & World Champions Live" (Sept. 6, '08)
Arlington, VA

"Skating for Life" (Oct 15, '08)
Bloomington, IL

The latter show will be taped and televised on NBC a little later in the month, on Oct. 25.

- Click here to visit Emily's official Web site


Last edited by HSG : 30th July 2008 at 09:54.
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Old 30th July 2008   #2
Nisha
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Default Re: Emily Hughes

Gosh, now Emily is a healthy-looking girl!

I hope she can be a role model for many young women.
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Old 30th July 2008   #3
Erika
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Default Re: Emily Hughes

Unfortunately, ice skating, like fashion, ballet (and sometimes gymnastics), remains the domain of, and unduly influenced by, gay men. And while I personally have several great gay male friends, I would not necessarily consult them as an authority for what is physically attractive in a woman...seeing as they aren't the least bit physically attracted. What baffles me is how straight men take their cues from media dominated by gay men, when biology dictates otherwise.

I love Emily Hughes' figure, and I also adore the fact she is a Harvard student. She's smart too! She's smart enough to reject stereotypes.
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Old 31st July 2008   #4
Graham
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Default Re: Emily Hughes

Emily definitely puts the "figure" in "figure skater." She is still quite thin, but the comparison between her healthy body and that of the other skater (the cadaver in the first picture) is startling.

I don't think figure skating realizes that it is severly limiting its popularity by enforcing such an androgynous aesthetic. Figure skating has been losing its audience for years, and the diminishing size of the girls is very much to blame. It is not enjoyable to watch girls perform who look like they have tuberculosis, or some other sort of wasting disease. What's the appeal of seeing stick insects flit across the ice?

If you look back at someone like Sonja Henie, who popularized skating, her figure was much like Emily's, not like today's underweight waifs. Emily's shape more closely resembles that of a Classical statue than a scrawny fashion model, with curvy thighs that would make any man's heart flutter. The public would much rather watch a shapely woman on the ice than a girl who looks sickly and malnourished.
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Old 31st July 2008   #5
MelanieW
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Default Re: Emily Hughes

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
Watching both videos, one cannot help but be charmed by the joy that emanates from Emily. Whereas other figure skaters' smiles seem cemented on and strained, masking their grim determination, Emily is genuinely delighted with herself on the ice. She radiates warmth and pleasure, in contrast to other skaters' frosty demeanours. She seems . . . playful (an utterly irresistible quality), like she is having a good time, and to watch her is to participate in the fun.

This is very true. Another problem in figure skating today is that it has become deadly serious, and deadly dull; humourless.

Skating also seems to have foregone artistry in favour of pointless "difficulty." The focus of competitive skating is now all about jumps, jumps, jumps - who can rotate in the air the most often. Who cares? Todays competitive routines are basically: Skate across the ice, jump a triple; skate across the ice, jump a triple; skate across...etc. *Yawn* It gets boring very quickly, and the fact that most skaters are drilled and drilled to make it look "effortless" makes it even less interesting.

Id MUCH rather see performances like Emilys, whether its the sensual, romantic choreography of her Celine Dion number, or the whimsy and originality of her "Apple Bottoms" performance. Hers is the kind of skating that I would actually pay to view. And theres no doubt that her curvier figure helps create this appeal, making her movements sinuous and luxuriant.

Sadly, I dread that Emily will probably soon be pressured into diminishing herself into the cookie-cutter modern skating mould - if she hasnt already. And that will be a great pity.

At least these videos exist as a record of how beautiful and enjoyable figure skating could be, if the performers were more curvaceous.
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Old 31st July 2008   #6
Maureen
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Default Re: Emily Hughes

Emily looks shapely, graceful, and beautiful. She is an Arcadian nymph in winter.
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Old 10th August 2008   #7
Chad
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Default Re: Emily Hughes

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
In the more notable of the two numbers, Miss Hughes skated to a Celine Dion song called "Taking Chances." The clip is just over a minute long, and you can watch it here:

- Click to watch ''Taking Chances''
That's such a great video in every way. I also found two more Emily Hughes performances on YouTube that I enjoyed very much.

Christmas is over four months away, but I adored this rendition of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." Emily is not quite as curvy here as in her Ice Chips numbers, but still very shapely. Watch for all of the amazing details in the performance that make it so delightful, especially a sensual moment at at 0:53 when Emily leans forward doing a circle, then runs her hands languidly through her hair, then along her figure. But above all, it's Emily's graceful hand and arm movements that make her style so beautiful. When she spins at 2:20, watch how her hand movements make her seem like a ballerina on ice.



Also, here's a video of Emily again performing to the "Apple Bottom Jeans" song that she used for the Ice Chips event. This video shows the complete routine though, and reveals that she actually opened the number to Beethoven's "Für Elise," with the music transforming into the hip-hop song partway through. Emily definitely looks shapely here, especially in the first portion, for which she wears a white camisole.
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