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Black History Month: Five athletes whose hair is their magic

Paul Pogba, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Venus Williams are three black athletes who draw strength from their hair

Have you ever heard the phrase, “When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you play good”?

When it comes to sports, in the past athletes have always used competition as an opportunity to peacock. In the black community, a person’s hair is a huge part of it. It’s identity.

As a multiracial woman with afro-structured hair, I love to express myself in a variety of ways. Expressing myself by changing the color, wearing braids or just hugging my natural hair … as an Afro (my mom’s hairdresser helps too).

Each hairstyle represents a different aspect of who I am and what I believe in. I made them part of my identity. I am proud of my crown.

When you are feeling your best, there is less doubt to creep in. When you are feeling good about all aspects, there is only one job you can do to win the competition.

Here are five athletes who made their hair their superpower and inspired a generation of young blacks to do the same.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Shelly Ann graphicThe Jamaican sprint legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is an eight-time Olympic champion

Olympic sprint legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is without a doubt in the spotlight for her extensive list of titles on the track. The eight-time Olympic medalist became a world star when she won 100m gold for Jamaica in Beijing in 2008. She is also the only person to have won four 100m world titles at the age of 34 ran the third fastest time in women’s 100m history – and it did after having a baby – incredible.

Aside from her amazing feats, Shelly-Ann takes the Caribbean wherever she goes: “The hair is the sunshine. Jamaica is hot. Doha is hot, so why not bring my sunshine.”

When I think of Shelly-Ann, epic speed comes first, history making is second, and a pop of bright color comes third. Rarely seen with the same hair color, Shelly-Ann is a style icon herself.

Off the track, she has opened her own salon: “I want to emphasize the beauty of every woman, no matter what you do with your hair, and at the same time nourish what you have under your wigs, extensions or braids.”

Not only does she change regularly herself, but she wants to empower other women to love and choose themselves, and her inspiration can come from wherever she goes: “I’m always looking for the brightest color. Sometimes I get Ideas from the country that I’m there. ”

Bring away: As Shelly-Ann herself once said, “Don’t give up on yourself, don’t let people predict how high you can go.”

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba artworkManchester United midfielder Paul Pogba won the World Cup with France in 2018

French and Manchester United footballer Paul Pogba is one of the most marketable athletes in the world because of his on-court talents. But also because of his charisma, his involvement in social media and his positive attitude and no doubt because he regularly changes his hair color, fades and styles it fashionably.

Pogba is constantly changing his hairstyles and has to stop speculation about whether his hair color has hidden meanings: “Is Pogba leaving United?”, “What does the broken heart in his hair mean?”.

Meanwhile, the footballer is simply enjoying a new design: “The broken heart in my hair was because everyone on my hair is always commenting. I wanted to see how people react. It was a laugh, not a hidden meaning.”

Faith is an important anchor in his life and he chooses not to get tattooed but still wants to express himself through art. There’s no color or design Pogba wouldn’t get – “Hair is changeable” – and if he wants a Batman design to fade on his because he saw it as a kid, Pogba will do just that.

Bring away: I think it’s great that Pogba isn’t afraid to try something new, even if there are other people’s judgments.

Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman artwork6ft 7in Dennis Rodman is a five-time NBA champion and a two-time NBA All-Star

Dennis Rodman is an NBA legend. To this day, people celebrate the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s for their titles and greatest players: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the cheerful Rodman.

Rodman’s rebounds, all-round defense and superb ability to knock the ball out of the hand of any opponent were unmatched.

The Hall of Famer was often misunderstood and teammates didn’t always know what Rodman personality they were going to get. “I wasn’t particularly excited to get it [on my team] But it didn’t take me long to say yes, I knew what Dennis put on the table, “says Scottie Pippen.

Rodman was recognized around the world for his ever-changing hair in the 90s and continues to be today.

He speaks openly about his hair, his make-up and his clothes, he is the real me and doesn’t want to be a cheat: “I do this because I identify with it. I think I have to express myself the way I feel . ”

Rodman was way ahead of his time – he styled a new design, color and look whenever he wanted. I love the audacity to be 100% yourself and not shy away from peer pressure or society – Dennis Rodman is a GOAT.

Bring away: We are all unique, accept the difference.

Shaunagh Brown

Shaunagh Brown graphicShaunagh Brown plays rugby for England and the Harlequins

“My hair makes other people so happy and that makes me happy.”

Shaunagh Brown started playing rugby at the age of 25 and only two years later she played her first international match for England. Today she is a leading figure on country and her club Harlequins, as well as an influential spokesperson for women’s rugby, which addresses women’s rights and black history.

She spoke passionately to me about the long process of learning to love her Afro since childhood when her mother did her hair – not always a positive experience: “I used to dislike my Afro hair, it was a chore … a Comb through my hair, it was just there, it existed, but that was it. “

It was the people around Shaunagh who helped her see the other side of an Afro: “People said how beautiful my hair is, the curls, I’ve always accepted the compliments. Cornrows changed my life, I’m on one At the point where I value my hair and enjoy it. “

Speaking to Shaunagh, I could feel the love and support of others who helped change the way she thinks so that she now uses her hair to educate, “People want to touch my hair out of curiosity and I realize that I could be one of them, the only people they were close enough to have this conversation and learn. “

Shaunagh has said in the past that getting noticed and being the only multiracial woman on her team was unsettling. Earlier in her life she shies away from showing off her south London roots in case she feels different, but in recent years the change Shaunagh is driving has been standout.

It’s great to see how she is committed to change and open to merging different cultures. Rugby may be Shaunagh’s career, but her passion for others hasn’t stopped, it has grown. Seeing natural afro hair on a rugby court is delightful and I really hope young children continue to look up to Shaunagh and take steps to play rugby or some other sport.

Bring away: Representation is important and can affect people without you knowing.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams graphicVenus Williams has won seven Grand Slam singles titles

I could spend all day listing the accomplishments and accolades of Venus Williams – this tennis player is a super woman.

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. A seven-time Grand Slam individual winner, four-time Olympic champion 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 had my hair in an afro. One of the players from Europe asked me how are you? the?’ and I said, ‘It grows like that.’ She loved it. I wasn’t offended. People just don’t know. I love hugging my crazy curls. “

In 1999, Venus had pearls in her braids in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. When a pearl slipped out of the braid, the referee penalized one point for interference. I admire that right there Venus stood up for itself and asked how that is the case. The star later said, “I shouldn’t have to change, I like my hair”.

Bring away: Life is about accepting who you are. The words and lessons you learn from an early age can determine and shape who you are as you age.

I am inspired by every athlete here. It’s not just the beautiful hairstyles, colors, and fros, it’s the message that comes with it.

Don’t be afraid to love yourself and show the world who you are.

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