Tonya Harding: Not Here to Make Friends

by:   |   Aug 27 2014

Tonya Harding

Tonya Harding was never your stereotypical Miss Priss figure-skater. She was raised in Portland by an abusive mom, dropped out of high school, and got married at 19. But she was also a monster on the ice, and broke the mold with her ultra-athletic performances. But that’s obvsdoi not the main reason most of us remember her. At the height of her figure-skating career, Harding was caught up in one of the most infamous scandals in sports history (they even made a rock opera about it, eww!) when she allegedly arranged for her ex-husband and two goons to break her rival Nancy Kerrigan’s leg before the 1994 Olympics. So much more dramatic than a triple axel!

The clubbing of Nancy Kerrigan simultaneously made Harding a household name and destroyed her career forever. I recently watched the documentary “The Price of Gold” detailing the scandal and revisiting it 20 years later, with real-deal footage and interviews with those involved in the whole saga. It really helps you understand the bigger picture of Harding’s life. And though the attackers did jail time, Harding still stands by the fact that she didn’t know or plan any part of the attack. The truth is, we’ll never really know what went down.

Beyond the interesting emotional details and life facts surrounding the scandal, I had almost forgot how ferosh her looks were. For all you ’90s-fashion lovers out there, I dare you to go where Harding went back in the day. A French braid finished with an oversize scrunchie? Hers was arguably the best in the game. Oversize blazer with a mock turtleneck? Nailed it. Crop sweater with belted, high-waisted black jeans? Yup.


 A girthy ’90s French braid

Tonya5.jpg This legendary sweatshirt, which was recently reproduced in limited quantity. Unfortunately, it’s no longer availableI always miss out on the good stuff! (Photo from NY Mag)

It’s also safe to say her whole leotard scenario was off the rails. While most female figure skaters were trying their best to look like the pwettiest pwincesses, Tonya went for a look that said “I don’t give a shit what you think.” (Which I always appreciate.) She was the ugly duckling who said “fuck you” to the female ideal of what a figure skater should look like. She was a strong athlete with a taste for the un-tasteful—her style was fierce, bold, and unapologetic.


Aggressive leotard action that’s straight out of the poolside fashion show in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead


Gold Fringe Ice Warrior


Giving off hot tropical vibes while a cold-as-ice Kerrigan skates by


Serious blue frosted shadow and intense brows, her signature eye look

US figure skaters Tonya Harding (L) and Nancy Kerr

Lovin’ this Warhol watercolor vibe

Tonya Harding

Another powerful print to match her powerful bod

The scandal that surrounded Harding and Kerrigan affected both of their lives forever, but Harding’s the one who really suffered. Though she wasn’t ever actually convicted of a crime, the U.S. Figure Skating organization stripped her of her 1994 Championship title and banned her for life from participating in events. That devastated Harding, who’d spent her entire life working towards a spot on the Olympic team, and she was left with nothing. To support herself, she tried her hand at boxing for a short period of time and then made ends meet with with a variety of odd jobs, including landscaping.


Harding never reclaimed her former glory on the ice. But, like we always say at GAL, once a drag queen impersonates you, you’re officially legendary for all of eternity:


 If you’re in the market for a ’90s-era documentary, you should def check out “The Price of Gold”. In the meantime, we’ll leave you with some must-read Tonya facts:

1) What really put Harding on the map was her completion of a triple axel jump in competition, in 1994. She was the first American woman to complete that jump in competition. Pretty bad ass!

2) Tonya’s Mom (below), was a notoriously difficult woman, however she did hand-sew all her daughter’s leotards. And she clearly had a lewk all her own:

Tonya's Mom

3) On her wedding night, Tonya & her husband got drunk and shot a sex tape and later reported it “stolen” when it leaked to the public. A story old as time, girl.

A Night to Remember




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Creative Director of G.A.L.

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