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Does Makeup Have A Place In Sports?

Female athletes can be feminine and athletic at the same time.

BY Agnes Amondi

Feb 22, 2023, 06:47 PM

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We are four months away from the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia & New Zealand. It might seem like it’s a long way out but trust me when I tell you that these tournaments come fast. Preparations are in high gear.

At the time of writing, the national teams are observing the FIFA international break with several tournaments going on. Before we know it, will be time for the prestigious competition. What should you watch out for? 

There’s one trend you might notice when everything gets going down under. There’s a growing trend of female footballers wearing makeup during games. It’s an interesting twist that has drawn widespread praise and criticism in equal measure.
At the 2019 World Cup in France, one of the best female players of all time Marta wore red lipstick during her country’s game. This for her was more than just wearing makeup. It was a symbol of the task ahead - that they have to leave “blood” on the field. In other words, give it their all and they did. 

In fact, she scored the only goal of the game and a record-breaking one for that matter. Marta became the highest scorer in world cup competitions with 17 goals and surpassed German legend, Miroslav Klose. Her lipstick did not hold her back.
American player Sydney Leroux puts on fake lashes and has her eyebrows done, Alex Morgan paints her nails and so does England’s Fran Kirby. Switzerland’s Alisha Lehman plays with a face full of makeup. Netherland’s Shanice Van De Sanden wears bold red lipstick.

Our continental players aren’t left behind. You can always spot Cameroon’s Ajara Njoya Nchout in her black and white striped braids. Nigeria’s Francisca Ordega is one of the few local players who steps to the field in makeup. She’s always having fancy hair and some lipstick. 

Will this carry on this summer? It better. 

Why It Is Important.

You Can Be Feminine And Athletic.

Female athletes are expected to be masculine and present themselves that way. Society cannot reconcile the fact that you can be feminine and athletic at the same time. This stems from the fact that masculinity is hailed for its strength while femininity is deemed to be some sought of weakness. Thus, how can you be feminine and play sports?

As a result, women who work in sports are thought to be less feminine and for the most part tomboys. When I say sport, I mean players as well as those who work in the industry in different capacities. However, over the years, women in sports have reversed this notion and not everyone is adjusting well. 

Francisca Ordega was blamed for Nigeria’s 3-0 defeat to Norway at the 2019 World Cup as some fans argued that her long purple hair prevented her from running well.
If you go through Alisha Lehmann’s Instagram page, you’ll easily come across dozen of comments from people bashing her for choosing to wear makeup. These women are deemed to be less committed to the sport because the assumption is that they only care about their looks.

Every player has a reason for doing this. They want to feel feminine while still playing sports. They want to feel good about themselves and if makeup does it, then why shouldn’t they do it? Also, it’s crucial that we see different sides to female athletes who don’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to their presentation. 

The fact that they are playing sports is something that’s already frowned upon and then determining how they want to present themselves is now an uphill battle they have to endure. 

Crafting Their Own Brands.

We mustn’t forget that female players just like their male counterparts are building their own brands. No one complains about Cristiano Ronaldo never tattooing his body or Neymar tattooing.

We’ve never had to debate male players' hairstyles and condemn them for switching them often. Why should female players be condemned for their choice of appearance?

The Women’s World Cup is one-time players get a chance to present themselves to the entire world. It’s the one time that brands trip over themselves to show solidarity for women’s football and it’s also the one time when people jump into the women’s football camp. Why not capitalise on this?

Will It Lead To the Sexualisation Of Women?

Commentators, brands and sports fans are inclined to examine a female player’s physique before they look at her ability. Before a commentator tells you about her footballing credentials, they first tell you about their family history and at times, talk about their appearance. 

Already, some people are looking at it from this perspective. They are questioning why they are trying to look pretty on the field. What you have to realise is that it’s not really about the makeup, society chooses to sexualise women even when they don’t have makeup so it’s time that female athletes do what they want and society finds a way of adjusting. 

I can’t wait to see all the countries and female players look fab while playing football.