Working Hard or Harding Werking

by Gita Jackson

I am not here to defend the actions of Tonya Harding. At the bare bones of it, she was a skilled athlete and an adept liar, and she completely choked at the Olympics. I’m here instead to ask you to embrace your inner Tonya Harding once in a while.

Life will always separate us into Kerrigans and Hardings. I’ve had my fair share of women I’ve been unfairly jealous of because they seemed to do everything right about femininity that I did wrong (shout out to those two high school girls on the 6 bus last week whose eyeliner game was way more on point than mine will ever, ever be). It’s not fair to them, certainly, but I refuse to roll over and take it when so many of my potential suitors have brushed me off for a girl that looks good with Zooey Deschanel bangs.

It’s arguable that Harding may never been a major player in skating, even if she’d never allegedly co-conspired to have her rival kneecapped. Skating, like the rest of the world, has some pretty skewed images of what a woman in the spotlight is supposed to be. Tonya Harding never had the “right look” for figure skating, but she sure as hell had the right look for not taking any shit. I think it would behoove us all to have that in our arsenals.

Let’s start with The Face:


Harding was clearly not very into the “ice princess” aspect of being a figure skater, and her makeup illustrates that fact well. Her bold brows, nude lips, and matte foundations were as much as you’d see on her outside of competitions. On the ice as well, she basically slapped on red lipstick and harshly contoured red blush. It’s femininity by the way of “ain’t I a woman?” Other than some forays into frosted lip gloss, she never seemed girly, even as a girl. It was never polished, but it was strong.


Both MAC Red and Ruby Woo are fairly safe bets for a strong red, but if you’re on a budget, the Kate Moss for Rimmel line is similarly bold and pigmented, especially the matte colors. For brows, I really don’t think you’re going to need anything more than a Wet n Wild Eyebrow Pencil — cheap, dark, and lasts forever.

“Dewey” is the in foundation look at the moment, though I just always look sweaty when I try it. I think matte looks cleaner in general, and can easily be achieved with a tinted moisturizer or bb cream and some powder. I use MAC BB Cream (notice a theme?), but I hear good things about CoverGirl’s BB Cream, as well as Iman’s, both of which are available in drug stores.

The Hair:


Tonya’s hair was all about taking up space. In her late career, she started to wear it straighter, as if to seem more demure and controlled, but before that, it was wild, teased, big. With a penchant for shit talking, she was never one to let her presence go unnoticed, and her hair speaks to that. And just like her shit talking, her hair earned her some ire in competition. It’s easy to see why — it was untamed, uncontrollable. Looking back, it was kind of a harbinger for things to come.

If you’re naturally curly, like me, capital B Big Hair can be achieved quite easily — in fact, you might just wake up like that. I use Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding to keep things from getting matted or frizzy. Do some research, though, as her products only work on curly hair up to a 3c curl pattern, and she hasn’t demarcated different products for different hair types very well. For instance, I’ve heard that her Curl Lengthening Creme is best for 2a/b/c curls, and that Quick Curls is for white girls. If 30 bucks a pop isn’t in your price range, I’ve also had some success with the Garnier Fructis Curl Creme – though it can be crunchy, and second-day hair can look a bit wilder than you’d want.

Straight-haired girls can just go look on Pinterest. Seriously. The world was made for you.

The Clothes:


Bold prints are the name of the game here: during practices, Harding seemed to wear the best of the best when it came to overly loud 90s florals. She matched them mostly with bright neons, and defaulted to all black when it came to trying to keep up appearances.


In competition, she constantly came under fire for costumes that were deemed too “trashy.” Unable to garner the same connections that led Kerrigan to wearing a Vera Wang original, her costumes were mostly handmade and tended to look a bit knock-off Disney Princess. Pastel blues and bright pinks were her thing, like she was simultaneously trying to play Aurora pre- and post-enchanted slumber.


Her casual wear was 100% Canadian Tuxedo, with crocheted crop tops in between. She never pretended she wasn’t from a lower-class family in Portland, Oregon. She drove a truck, smoked, and was married to a man with a really suspect moustache. If we can say one positive thing about Tonya Harding, it’s that except for the whole conspiring to injure her rival thing, she owned her shit. Well, that, and she was the first American woman to land a triple axel. That counts for something, right?

Let’s be honest here: there’s really no high-end option. You can easily find everything you need in a thrift shop. Especially if you peruse a Buffalo Exchange for hipster cast-offs. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? I do have one bit of advice in terms of denim, though: Carhartt. If you can catch a clearance sale, it’s not prohibitively expensive, and my Carhartt jeans are incredibly comfortable and practical, and actually kind of cute with a crop top and Doc Martens a la Rhianna. If you tend to go for a high waist like I do, you’re also in luck — they’re all high waisted! You have no choice in the matter!


Tonya Harding was never going to be America’s sweetheart, and when you look at her as an actual living, breathing human being, she seems like she’d be pretty awful to be around in almost any capacity. However, Tonya Harding the Idea, rather than Tonya Harding the Person, can provide some worthwhile lessons to take with you. You might never be Nancy Kerrigan, or that girl from my middle school that took a limo every time she went to the airport (true life), but maybe for a little while, you can convince the world that you, acting unapologetically as yourself, are someone worth paying attention to.

Also, conspiring to take out your rival before the Olympics is just never going to work. So seriously, try not to kneecap anyone while wearing your neon leotard and mom jeans.

Gita Jackson is a cool girl with a lifestyle; she talks to herself on @xoxogossipgita. 

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