If there’s one thing that some of today’s most celebrated women athletes have in common, it’s their growing desire to use beauty as a means of expression when competing. Christina Clemons breezed past her competition at the Tokyo Olympics in everything from bold makeup to butterfly clip-adorned double buns. Other athletes like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Naomi Osaka stood out by way of colorful, patriotic hairstyles. While Allyson Felix — the most decorated American track athlete in Olympics history — says her pre-competition beauty routine is a lot more pared-down, she still doesn’t like to be put in a box.
“When I’m competing, I try to keep things really simple and just take care of my skin,” she told POPSUGAR. “I’m in the sun so I like to make sure I moisturize and wear sunscreen. My hair is also a big part of that. I love using Pantene Gold Series’s Butter Cream ($8) before I braid my hair — it makes my hair feel so soft and protected when I take my braids out.” (Editor’s note: Felix recently partnered with the brand for its “What’s Your Legacy” initiative.)
Though the Olympian might not experiment as much with makeup or nail art on the track field, she still knows what it’s like for her looks to be under constant scrutiny — but she’s not afraid to push back.
“Us female athletes are held to this standard that not only do you have to be exceptional on the field of play, you also have to meet these beauty standards,” she said. “For a majority of my career, I didn’t feel like I fit into them — not having the blond hair or blue eyes; not fitting into this image that a lot of times you see on the magazine covers. It’s been challenging, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve really embraced who I am.”
Embracing what makes her different is something she’s learned to do as her athletic career progressed, and it’s one major ideal she hopes to pass down to her two-year-old daughter, Camryn.
“I will always reinforce to my daughter that she’s unique and that all of her differences from everyone else make her special,” she said. “There’s beauty all across the board in all of our differences. I want to make sure she’s comfortable in her skin and confident, and I think that comes from myself and the women that I surround her with.”
Felix continued, “I really hope to pass down to her that strong is beautiful, and that being comfortable in your own skin is beautiful. How we each define beauty is different, but we can all kind of embrace the different ways that we do that.”
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