Have you heard the expression “if you look good you feel good, and if you feel good you play good”?
In sports, historically, athletes have always used competition as a peacock opportunity. In the black community, a person’s hair has a lot to do with it. It’s identity.
As a mixed race woman with afro-textured hair, I like to express myself with versatility. Expressing myself by changing colors, wearing braids, or just kissing my natural hair… like an afro (it also helps that my mom is a hairdresser).
Each hairstyle represents a different aspect of who I am and what I believe in. I made it part of my identity. I am proud of my crown.
When you feel better, there are fewer doubts that can arise. If all aspects of you are feeling good, there is only one task left and that is to win the competition.
Here are five athletes who made their hair their super power and inspired a generation of black youth to do the same.
Olympic sprint legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is undoubtedly in the spotlight for her long list of track titles. The eight-time Olympic medalist became a world star when she won 100m gold for Jamaica in Beijing 2008. She is also the only person to have won four 100m world titles and at the age of 34 years old. set the third fastest time in the history of the women’s 100m – and she did it after having a baby – amazing.
In addition to her incredible accomplishments, Shelly-Ann takes the Caribbean wherever she goes: “Hair is the sun. It’s hot in Jamaica. It’s hot in Doha, so why not bring my sun.”
When I think of Shelly-Ann, epic speed comes first, story comes second and a burst of bright color comes third. Rarely seen with the same hair color, Shelly-Ann is a style icon in her own right.
Far from the runway, she opened her own salon: “I want to be able to accentuate the beauty of any woman no matter what you choose to do with your hair and at the same time nourish what you have under your wigs. , extensions or braids. “
Not only does she regularly change herself, but she wants to empower other women to love and choose herself, and her inspiration can come from wherever she competes: “I’m always looking for color. the most lively. Sometimes I get ideas from the country. I’m in. ”
To take with: As Shelly-Ann said herself, “Don’t be discouraged, don’t let people predict the heights you can reach.”
French and Manchester United footballer Paul Pogba is one of the most marketable athletes in the world due to his talents on the pitch. But also because of his charisma, his engagement on social networks and his positive attitude, and no doubt because he regularly changes his hair color, fade and trendy style.
Pogba keeps changing his hairstyles and has to stop speculation about whether his hair color has any hidden meanings, “Is Pogba leaving United? “,” What does the broken heart in her hair mean? “.
Meanwhile, the footballer is simply enjoying a new design: “The broken heart in my hair was because everyone was always commenting on my hair, I wanted to see how people would react. It was a laugh, no hidden meaning . “
Faith is a big anchor in his life and he chooses not to get a tattoo but still wants to express himself through art. There’s no color or design that Pogba wouldn’t get – “hair is made to change” – and if he wants a Batman design on his fade because he looked at him like a child, then Pogba will do just that.
To take with: I like that Pogba isn’t afraid to try something new, even with the judgment of others.
Dennis Rodman is an NBA legend. To this day, people celebrate the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s for their titles and their greatest players: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the lively Rodman.
Rodman’s rebounds, complete defense, and supreme ability to knock the ball out of any opponent’s hand were unmatched.
The Hall of Fame was often misunderstood and teammates weren’t always sure which Rodman character they would get. “I wasn’t too excited to have it [on my team] but it didn’t take long for me to say yes, I knew what Dennis had brought to the table, ”says Scottie Pippen.
Rodman was recognized around the world for his ever-changing hair in the 90s, and still is to this day.
He talks openly about his hair, makeup and clothes, being his real self and not wanting to be an impostor: “I’m doing this because I identify with it. the way I feel. ”
Rodman was way ahead of his time – styling a new design, a new color, and a new look whenever he wanted. I absolutely love the audacity to be 100% himself and not fear peer pressure or society – Dennis Rodman is a GOAT.
To take with: We are all unique, embrace the difference.
“My hair brings so much happiness to others and it makes me happy.”
Shaunagh Brown started playing rugby at the age of 25 and just two years later she was in her first international game for England. She is now a leading figure in country and her club, the Harlequins, and acts as a highly influential spokesperson for women’s rugby, addressing issues relating to women’s rights and black history.
She spoke to me passionately about the long process of learning to love her afro, of her childhood when her mum styled her hair – an experience that was not always positive: “Before, I didn’t like my afro hair. ‘was a chore… a comb through my hair, it was right there, it existed but that was it. “
It was the people around Shaunagh who helped her see the other side of having an afro: “People would say how beautiful my hair is, the curls, I always took the compliments. Cornrows has changed. my life I have come to a point where I appreciate my hair and enjoy it. “
Speaking with Shaunagh, I was able to feel the love and support from others who have helped her change her mindset, to a point where she now uses her hair to educate: “People want to touch my hair. out of curiosity and I admit that I might be one of the only people they’ve been close enough that they can have this conversation and learn. “
Shaunagh has said in the past that standing out and being the only Métis woman on his team is annoying. Earlier in her life she avoided showing off her South London roots in case she felt different, but over the past few years the change Shaunagh is pushing has been exceptional.
It’s great to see her advocate for change and be frank in merging different cultures. Rugby may be Shaunagh’s career, but her passion for others didn’t stop, she grew. Seeing natural afro-textured hair on a rugby pitch is delicious, and I really hope young children continue to admire Shaunagh and take action to play rugby or any other sport.
To take with: Representation is important and it can impact people without your knowledge.
I could spend the whole day listing the accomplishments and accolades of Venus Williams – this tennis player is a superwoman.
Most people know the Williams sisters both individually and as a duo. Venus is Serena’s older sister, but she is more than just an older sister. Seven-time Grand Slam singles winner, quadruple Olympic gold medalist and former world number one – and graduate in fashion and business administration.
While Venus is a fantastic athlete, she’s also always a helping hand and a teacher whenever she can: “I was in a locker room once and my hair was afro. ‘Europe asked me’ how are you doing this? ‘ and I said, “It grows like that.” She loved it. I didn’t take offense. People just don’t know. I love kissing my crazy curls. ”
In 1999, during the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Venus had pearls in her braids. When a bead slipped from the braid, the referee penalized one point for causing the inconvenience. I admire that Venus right there stood up for herself and asked how it was. The star later said “I shouldn’t have to change, I love my hair”.
To take with: Life is about embracing who you are. The words and lessons taught to you from an early age can dictate and shape who you are when you are old.
I am inspired by every athlete here. It’s not just the beautiful hairstyles, colors and fros, it’s the message that goes with it.
Don’t be afraid to love yourself and show the world who you are.