Aly Raisman made us all cry when she got her redemption on Thursday night, earning the silver medal in all-around individual gymnastics at the Rio Olympics.
Raisman worked really hard for this incredible achievement, overcoming the haters who told her she was too old and past her peak. She got gold with the team and silver for herself. She is a champion.
But I have to make a confession. Through all of Raisman’s flips and spins, I couldn’t stop looking at her hair, and I wasn’t the only one.
After both Simones and lightning Ledecky, Aly Raisman’s messy bun is my favorite thing about Rio.
— Sophie Gilbert (@sophieGG) August 12, 2016
I want my life to be as stable as Aly Raisman’s bun
— Julianne Lewis (@julianne_lewis) August 12, 2016
In competition, Raisman consistently wears her long, thick hair in a messy bun held together by a bunch of elasticsand clips.
Beauty in gymnastics is an odd factor. These young women are doing insanely strong, athletic movements, but they’re still expected to look like princesses.
We saw sparkly eyeshadow, extended cat eyes, smokey eyes, glitter on bodies, glitter on heavily hair-sprayed hair, ponytails, braids and ribbons on the women competing in Rio this week.
Not to mention, the Team USA leotards have 5,000 Swarovski crystals on them.
Meanwhile, as part of competition, female gymnasts have to make their crazy difficult work not just look easy, but look beautiful. Little dance steps are expected in floor exercises, as if shimmies are a vital gymnastic step.
Arguments can be made on all sides about that aspect of gymnastics. Making something look overtly feminine doesn’t diminish the power it takes to do what they’re doing, although it can make some people (read: assholes) believe it does.
Much like everything else in a woman’s life, on top of doing insane flips and feats of strength, gymnasts have to worry about how they look.
Some athletes clearly enjoy the beauty part (in dancing and appearance) more than others, but it’s hard to ignore the double standard that male gymnasts aren’t expected to dance.
As for styling, the sparkles and embellishments ensure attention is on you. And of course, looking good boosts your self-esteem, which can make you perform better, gymnasts have said.
But there are some gymnasts who are, well, more sparkly than others. Simone Biles, for instance, is known for her love of sparkle.
Bilesgleefully posted a selfie on Snapchat on Thursday before the all-around finals. The selfie showed off her dazzling eye makeup. Earlier this year, shetold the New Yorker she likes “lots of crystals” in her outfits.
Throughout competition this week, Biles wore her hair in a perfectly smooth ponytail with a patriotic ribbon.