Misty Copeland is not one to dance around the issues of intolerance.
Copeland has been a long-time spokesperson for Under Armour, championing a message of diversity and inclusivity, but after the brand’s CEO Kevin Plank recently voiced his support for President Donald Trump, Copeland spoke out on Instagram—and it should come as no surprise that her message was on point.
I have always appreciated the great support and platform that Under Armour has given me to represent my community, gender, and career on the world stage. However, I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported. Those of you who have supported and followed my career know that the one topic I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about is the importance of diversity and inclusion. It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief. I have spoken at length with Kevin privately about the matter, but as someone who takes my responsibility as a role model very seriously, it is important to me that he, and UA, take public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values in order for us to effectively continue to work towards our shared goal of trying to motivate ALL people to be their best selves.
“I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported,” the famed ballet dancer wrote on Insta. “Those of you who have supported and followed my career know that the one topic I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about is the importance of diversity and inclusion. It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief.”
In an interview with CNBC, Plank called Trump “highly passionate” and said that having “such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country.”
The push back against the activewear company adds yet another layer to the ongoing battle between brands and the controversial U.S. president. Brands that have publicly supported Trump, such as L.L. Bean, Under Armour and New Balance, have been the target of swift social media backlash and calls for boycotts.
After the #grabyourwallet campaign emerged last October, urging consumers to boycott companies that stock products or fashion lines associated with the Trump family, retailers and brands were forced to take notice, and in some cases, take action.
Nordstrom announced this month that it would no longer be carrying Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, and other brands including Neiman Marcus and Shoes.com appear to have followed suit. According to The New York Times, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls employees were instructed to take down all special displays for Ivanka merchandise. A TJX spokesperson told FLARE that their stores (Winners, Marshalls and HomeSense) will continue to offer Ivanka Trump merchandise, saying the original communication to U.S. stores “instructed them to mix this line of merchandise into our racks, not to remove it from the sales floor.”
President Trump responded to the news on Twitter, and his adviser and former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told viewers on Fox & Friends to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” Conway was immediately called out for her sales pitch and the (v. illegal) conflict of interest involved with the White House endorsing brands. She has since reportedly apologized to the president and been “counselled” on the issue.
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
In Canada, consumers are also campaigning for The Hudson’s Bay Company to drop Ivanka’s merchandise. Though the Canadian retailer has said it has no plans to cut ties with Ivanka’s brand, the #baycott is gaining momentum.
— idelette mcvicker (@idelette) February 10, 2017
Copeland, who is the principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, noted that she had already spoken with Under Armour’s CEO in private but felt that as a role model, it was also her duty to speak publicly. Soon after the ballerina’s post went live, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who also partners with Under Armour, made a similar statement on Facebook calling Plank’s words “divisive and lacking in perspective.”
Though both Copeland and Johnson have voiced their disapproval of the brand’s CEO, it does not appear that either have formally split from Under Armour—but one thing is clear; this dance is far from over.