The wrap up of summer presented much inspiration in beauty. From glowing skin to winged eyeliner, bold lipstick, and glitter-lined eyes; makeup was performing EPICALLY on a major global stage. This global stage was far from any fashion week or red carpeted events- the usual platforms where beauty is highlighted. This time around makeup was being premiered on the world’s most badass female athletes performing in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
With more female Olympians competing while wearing makeup than ever before, a statement has become very clear: Female athletes enjoy the game of beauty just like every other makeup-wearing woman does.
Majority of the media, showed great appreciation for the gorgeous and creative looks these women flaunted while kicking ass in their sports. While most media on the subject was supportive and refreshing to read; there were some who addressed these beauty efforts as a way for the athletes to “sex themselves up” and fish for beauty brand contracts.
(Insert sigh here)
Some of the athletes who perform in makeup had their own statements to share on the subject and they were nothing short of empowering. U.S track star Shannon Rowbury, who wears a beautiful red lip when she competes, says: "You can be a strong, athletic, courageous woman and you can wear lipstick." “It’s important to open people’s eyes to the fact that you can be an athlete and still be into fashion.” I think before the two were considered mutually exclusive or something. But that’s definitely not the case.”
U.S gymnastics superstar, Aly Raisman, who’s radiant complexion and patriotic eyeliner is as gorgeous as her gymnastics, says: “It’s a patriotic touch and makes me feel confident knowing I’m representing USA,” she said. “And it’s kind of a fun, relaxing thing. It makes me feel calm and it’s a distraction before the competition.” “I think it’s kind of cool to have that sort of badass feeling that you’re doing your sport and you’re really strong and powerful, but at the same time, you can feel really feminine and beautiful. I think for me, having that combination is what makes me feel really confident.”
Makeup application inducing both mental and emotional power has been happening long before these athletes were born.
Native Americans are famously known for their face paint and used it as spiritual tool before a battle. What some may not know is that the process of applying the war paint was just as important to them as the paint itself. Native Americans believed they would gain “supernatural powers” from the application process, thus making them feel more resilient and confident before heading out into battle.
And while I can’t say if applying makeup gives these ladies “supernatural powers”, I do feel that having a pre-performance beauty ritual has the ability to produce a feeling of “I'M READY" within. U.S. women’s soccer player, Ali Krieger, states: “It’s kind of this look good, feel good, play good mentality,” she also calls her mascara “war paint”, which further validates my thoughts. Personally, when I apply my makeup before training or sport, I feel like I’m applying an extension of my “badassery” that helps me perform at my most elite level. It's the finishing touch.
A woman that athletically dominates and wears makeup while doing it may not seem common, but it’s nothing new at all- we’re just seeing much more of it. From Wonder Woman to Cat Woman and many superhero babes in between; their makeup game was as sexy as their ability to kick ass. And then there are real-life legends like U.S track star Flo Jo. Flo, also known as “the fastest woman in the world,” was famous for showing up to her competitions making creative statements from her makeup to her unique outfits.
As a professional makeup artist and a (non-professional) lifelong athlete, my perspective on female athletes wearing makeup comes from a uniquely personal viewpoint. I can’t say when this invisible line that likes to separate the world of sport from the world of beauty was born, but I can say the line is slowly becoming a thing of the past. And it’s about time.
Having a career that has me playing with color, lipstick and mascara is fun and sexy. It laces my life with plenty of feminine essence. My highly athletic lifestyle on the other hand, juxtaposes my glamorous, ladylike infused career. Throughout the week my training comprises various forms of dynamic training like Brasilian Jiu-Jitsu, surfing, distance running, track sprints, HIIIT, and yoga. Being an athlete while also being an expert in beauty, gives me a unique identity within my industry. What I appreciate about the uniqueness is that I represent the NON-separation between being an athlete and being feminine. In my world, they coexist perfectly and allow me to live a life that is 360 degrees of beautiful.
Recently the question: “Does an athlete need to wear makeup to feel confident?” was circulating in the media.
I admit that I laughed out loud and rolled my eyes as I heard that question.
As if the magnificence of their elite athletic abilities does not offer them a wealth of confidence? To be competing in the Olympics REQUIRES a level of self-confidence that no lipstick or mascara could ever offer. In order for these women to perform on the biggest platform in sports, an immense amount of commitment and deep connection to their greatness is demanded from them. Makeup in its most perfect application, could never emulate the empowerment that comes from that level of dedication. Wearing makeup is simply a form of creative expression and in many ways, a ritual that makes a woman feel good. It’s a choice.
Feeling beautiful and strong pair perfectly together and if that means wearing makeup in sport, awesome. May your eyeliner be sharp and your highlight beam bright. Sport and beauty are not mutually exclusive and these Olympians, along with many other female athletes in the media are helping the world see that. Bravo ladies.