Spreading Christmas Conformity

One Singular Rockette Sensation

By Madison Schmakel

hot legs covered in holly

The Radio City Rockettes help make every Christmas a white Christmas — just not in a way that brings about a warm fuzzy feeling as you sit by your fireplace. The 200 sparkly, short-skirted women run frantic circles around the stage in blissful euphoria. With mile-long legs and pasted-on smiles, they look more like dolls than actual human beings.

But these dancing fembots compose an exclusive club in which the major initiation requirements are the ability to do vertical splits and, most importantly, look like mutant clones of Vanna White. The Rockettes discourage diversity and subsequently set a standard of beauty that most women can’t possibly attain.

The mastermind behind these dancing phenoms, Russell Markert, outlawed so much as a suntan on a white dancer because “it would make her look like a colored girl.” He got his dying wish — the kick-line stayed as white as Don Imus for 62 years. The Rockettes’ director in the ’80s, Violet Holmes, vied for a lily-white lineup because “one or two black girls in the line would definitely distract.” It wasn’t until 1987 that the first black woman took the stage and kicked Holmes in the face. Well figuratively, at least.

After eight decades of eye-high kicks, the Rockettes still look like clone troopers. The height requirement for these giraffe-like dancers ranges from 5’6” to 5’10.5” — not including heels. Apparently they all spawned from professional basketball players. To counteract this four-inch margin of error, their skirts vary in length and the tallest women stand in the middle of the line, creating an illusion of identical kicking fools. I guess diversity kills beauty, Ms. Holmes.

But the bopping replicas don’t just fret over their own perfection; they want others to conform to their beauty standards, too. Recently, the Rockettes worked with Facing it Together, a non-profit that provides cosmetic surgery for people with facial disorders. Shocker — a lineup of plastic women promoting plastic surgery.

At least the Rockettes’ blindingly white smiles beautify Christmas for everyone — even the ugly, short people.

Illustration by Patricia DiBenedetto