Have you heard the phrase ‘if you look good you feel good, and if you feel good you play well’?
When it comes to sports, historically athletes have always used competition as an opportunity to perform. In the black community, a person’s hair is a big part of this. It is identity.
As a mixed race woman with afro-textured hair, I love to express myself with versatility. Expressing myself by changing the color, wearing braids, or just hugging 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 have made it part of my identity. I am proud of my crown.
When you feel better, there will be fewer doubts that can arise. If all its aspects feel good, there is only one task at hand: win the competition.
Here are five athletes who have made their hair their superpower and inspired a generation of young black men to do the same.
Olympic sprinting legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is undoubtedly the center of attention for her extensive list of titles on the track. The eight-time Olympic medalist became a world star when she won 100 meters of gold for Jamaica in Beijing 2008. She is also the only person to win four 100-meter world titles at the age of 34. ran the third fastest time in the history of the women’s 100 meters, and she did it after having a baby, incredible.
Aside from her amazing achievements, Shelly-Ann brings the Caribbean wherever she goes: “Hair is sunlight. Jamaica is hot. Doha is hot, so why not bring my sunshine?”
When I think of Shelly-Ann, epic speed comes first, story making comes second, and a brilliant flash of color comes third. Rarely seen with the same hair color, Shelly-Ann is a style icon in her own right.
Far from the track she has 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, nurture what you have under your wigs, extensions or braids.”
Not only does she change it regularly herself, she also wants to empower other women to love and choose themselves, and her inspiration may come from where she competes: “I’m always looking for the brightest color. Sometimes I get ideas from the country. in which I am “.
Remove: As Shelly-Ann once said: “Don’t give up, don’t let people predict the heights you can reach.”
France and Manchester United footballer Paul Pogba is one of the most marketable athletes in the world due to his talent on the pitch. But also because of her charisma, social media engagement, and positive attitude, and no doubt because she regularly changes her hair color, fading, and style in fashion.
Pogba is always changing her haircuts and has to shut down the speculation as to whether her hair color has hidden meanings, ‘Is Pogba leaving United?’, ‘What does the broken heart in her hair mean?’
Meanwhile, the footballer simply enjoys a new design: “The broken heart in my hair was because everyone is always commenting on my hair, I wanted to see how people reacted. It was a laugh, with no hidden meaning.”
Faith is an important anchor in your life and you choose not to get tattoos, but you still want to express yourself through art. There is no color or design that Pogba doesn’t get – “hair is for change” – and if he wants a Batman design in his fading because he saw it as a kid, then Pogba will.
Remove: I love that Pogba isn’t afraid to try something new, even with other people’s judgments.
Dennis Rodman is an NBA legend. To this day, people celebrate the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s for their titles and best players: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the lively Rodman.
Rodman’s rebounding, complete defense, and supreme ability to hit the ball out of the hand of any opponent were unmatched.
The Hall of Famer was often misunderstood and teammates didn’t always know 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 was bringing to the table, “says Scottie Pippen.
Rodman was recognized around the world for his ever-changing hair in the 90s, and continues to be to this day.
He talks openly about his hair, makeup and clothes, about being his true self and not wanting to be an impostor: “I do this because I identify with this. I think I have to express myself the way I feel.”
Rodman was way ahead of his time – he designed a new design, color and look whenever he wanted. I love the audacity to be 100% himself and not shy away from peer pressure or society – Dennis Rodman is a GOAT.
Remove: We are all uniquely different, accept the difference.
“My hair brings so much happiness to other people and that makes me happy.”
Shaunagh Brown started playing rugby at age 25 and just two years later he was competing in his first international match for England. She is now a leading figure for the country and her club, Harlequins, as well as acting as a highly influential spokesperson for women’s rugby, addressing issues of women’s rights and black history.
She spoke passionately about the long process of learning to love her afro, from her childhood when her mom combed her hair, it wasn’t always a positive experience: “I didn’t like my afro hair, it was a chore … not to get it. through my hair, it was 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 were saying how beautiful my hair is, the curls, I always accepted the compliments. Cornrows changed my life, I’ve reached a point where the one who appreciates my hair and enjoys it. “
In speaking with Shaunagh, I could feel the love and support of others who helped her change her mind, to a point where she now uses her hair to educate: “People want to touch my hair out of curiosity and I recognize that I could be one of the only people they’ve been close enough with to have that conversation and learn. “
Shaunagh has said in the past that standing out and being the only mixed-race woman on her team was disconcerting. Early in his life, he avoided showing his roots in South London in case he felt different, but in recent years, the change that Shaunagh is driving is remarkable.
It’s great to see her advocate for change and be outspoken in merging different cultures. Rugby may be Shaunagh’s career, but his passion for others has not stopped, it has grown. Seeing afro-textured natural hair on a rugby court is delightful, and I really hope young children continue to admire Shaunagh and take action to play rugby or any other sport.
Remove: Representation is important and can have an impact on people without you knowing.
I could spend all day listing the accomplishments and awards 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 much more than just an older sister. Seven-time Grand Slam singles winner, four-time Olympic gold medalist and former world number one, and with degrees in fashion and business administration.
Although Venus is a fantastic athlete, she is also always a helping hand and teacher whenever she can: “I was in a locker room once and I had my hair in an afro. One of the players from Europe asked me ‘how are you doing, that one? ‘ And I said, ‘grow up like this.’ She loved it. I wasn’t offended. People just don’t know. I love hugging my crazy curls. “
In 1999, in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Venus had beads in her braids. When a bead slipped from the braid, the referee sanctioned a point for causing annoyance. I admire that Venus, right there, defended herself and wondered how that was the case. Later the star said “I shouldn’t have to change, I like my hair.”
Remove: 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 grow up.
I am inspired by every athlete here. It’s not just the beautiful hairstyles, colors, and fros, it’s the message that comes with them.
Don’t be afraid to love yourself and show the world who you are.