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Roller Derby Girls Are No Joke & Neither Is Their Beauty Advice

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    Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.

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    Anyone who's ever played high school sports knows that, sadly, there can be vast differences in funding, attendance, expectations, and even how we talk about athletics between the genders. And now, with the Olympics at fever pitch, it's become frighteningly easy to spot the discrepancies in how the media covers and comments on men's and women's sports.

    Refinery29
    recently reported that in the past several months, "57% of media mentions about female athletes have referred to their beauty" and over 100 million media mentions were about their overall appearances. Shocked? Neither were we. What's more, outlets have been saying questionable things, with Fox News going as far as to say that female athletes are “sexing it up more than ever” while wearing makeup during Olympic competitions. Excuse us?

    Now, the expectation that female athletes need to be skilled, strong, and look good doing it isn't new. And, we all want to look our best. But comparing athletes based on whether they take the field bare-faced (we do hope they're wearing SPF!) or with a killer cat-eye (we recommend a waterproof formula) is disrespectful. Wearing, or not wearing, makeup is a personal decision that doesn't warrant commentary by a third party. It's also a waste of air time when there's a game or match to discuss.

    The moral of the story? Makeup, tattoos, and hair accessories are worn for self-expression, not to score points on the field or with viewers. Athletes such as Ronda Rousey and Heather Hardy have spoken out about what makes them feel strong and beautiful, proving that certain segments of the media don't get to control opinions about this topic.

    To continue the conversation, we went where full-contact sports and expressive beauty meet: roller derby. The women you'll meet ahead are badass skaters from the tri-state area. They're tough, athletic, and, guess what, they're wearing makeup, too. We asked them how they feel about portrayals of female athletes in the media, what makes them feel confident, and more.

    Because when strong women feel powerful together, a more realistic definition of beauty emerges...

    You've never seen beauty quite like this before. Check out our Beauty Innovator Awards for the smartest, funkiest, most fresh-to-death products of the year.



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  2. Photo: David A Carter Photography/Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.

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    Cheryl "Bow Chicka Pow Pow" Andrew
    Team: Jerzey Derby Brigade

    What do you think your derby alter ego, Bow Chicka Pow Pow, embodies about yourself?
    "An independent woman that is going to strive to enjoy life and do what she wants...[and that] strong is beautiful and sexy."

    How does beauty play a role in roller derby?
    "We all want to feel like we’re looking our best. I still feel that way now, but I feel less pressure from myself to worry about it because I am around so many women who are supportive of me.

    "A lot of us enjoy putting on our makeup before a bout; it becomes a routine. I enjoy playing a sport wearing makeup. Why? Because I can — and I want to! It can be felt from within, [just like] the confidence you get from working out or being around strong, positive, and supportive women."

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    What are some products you use for your pre- and post-game rituals?
    "I use argan [Moroccan] oil on my hair and John Frieda Sheer Blonde almost daily. I like Clinique Superpowder Double Face Makeup. I enjoy the feeling and ease of using Garnier Cleansing Towelettes for makeup removal — they are the first thing I grab once I am home after a game. I use Secret Clinical Strength daily and keep an extra in my gym bag. I always shower and exfoliate with a body scrub after every game. If I have free time, I do a facial mask. I like Proactiv and Noxzema.

    "I stick to my normal routine [for games and everyday life]. I enjoy wearing the same style of makeup as I would if I went to work. I am a creature of habit, using the same products."

    What did you love about beauty as a kid? What about now?
    "I loved the expression that could be made through beauty, and now, as an adult, I appreciate the freedom."

    As an athlete, how do you feel about your representation in the media?
    "We're not viewed with much value, and that’s frustrating. Being a woman, and seeing that depiction, makes me try harder at being supportive of other women."

  4. Photo: David A Carter Photography/Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.

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    Lauren "Wolfie" Moreau
    Team: Jerzey Derby Brigade

    How has roller derby shaped the way you see yourself?
    "Roller derby has shown me that I am capable of a lot more, physically and emotionally, than I thought."

    How has your view of beauty changed with that?
    "My perception of beauty is always evolving. When I first started playing in games, I would go over-the-top with dramatic smoky eyes, even equipped with false lashes. However, now I’m perfectly fine not wearing any makeup and focusing on playing.

    "I used to have to shave my underarms and legs, or else my day was ruined. In the derby community, no one bats an eye if a woman has underarm or leg hair. It’s great."

    How does beauty incorporate itself into your personal life?
    "I am a freelance makeup artist, so beauty plays a huge part in my career and personal life. As a career, makeup is diverse. There are jobs that just want clean and effortless beauty, while some jobs require more drama, wilder colors, etc. In my personal life, I don’t wear makeup unless I feel like it."

    What do you wear to feel confident?
    "I love the Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen Lotion, RCMA foundation (which is super-pigmented and has a vegan formula), Benefit They’re Real! in Beyond Brown, Norwex Timeless Lip Balm, Tom Ford SS16 Highlighter and Blush cream [Ed. note: These are currently unavailable.], Tom Ford lipsticks — I’m loving the shade Sweet Mystery right now. And, Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse smells so good and gives such an awesome glow to the skin and hair."

  5. Illustrated by Elliot Salazar and Tristan Offit.

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    When did your relationship with beauty begin?
    "I've loved playing with makeup since high school. I’ve always been drawn to the punk-rock scene, and that definitely allowed for wild expression. Now, I take inspiration from wild looks and make them more wearable and chic...

    "Makeup is indefinite and is explored with imagination. I love to experiment and try new products and looks — not only on myself, but with clients and friends."

    How is the role of beauty different in roller derby, as compared to other sports?
    "There’s the freedom of expression in roller derby. Some players wear full face paint when playing — it’s quite amazing...the level of creativity."

    What do you want our readers to know about beauty in the world of sports?
    "That there [are] not enough cosmetic products that can endure the physical demands roller derby imposes. That’s why I’m starting my own line of long-wear, comfortable cosmetics fit for the athlete."

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    Eva "Evilicious" McCloskey
    Team: Gotham Girls Roller Derby

    What about roller derby initially attracted you to the sport?
    "I remember watching roller derby on television in the early '80s, when I was very young. It was on Saturday mornings before bowling, and I remember being most fond of the costumes and the theatrics of it.

    "But modern-day roller derby is very different than the roller derby that people remember... Modern derby started in 2001 in Austin, and even since then it has gone through a tremendous amount of evolution."

    How has derby influenced your perception of beauty?
    "I think that something that is a universal truth for many of the folks that play roller derby is that the definition of what we see in the media, what is a 'beautiful woman,' is very different than reality.

    "I think that playing roller derby and being involved in it is very helpful in cementing the point of view that the media image is not true, because strength is beautiful. A lot of teenagers and women in their early twenties have insecurities about themselves, and I think that being involved in roller derby is a significant boost in having a more realistic view about how beautiful a 'normal-looking' woman can be."

    What do you think needs to change in the beauty world?
    "I think a positive step forward would be for more women of color to be represented in the beauty industry, fashion, and mainstream media in general.

    "I think that female athletes have an uphill battle, and I think that when you don't fit into the [typical] mold...it's even more difficult to feel represented. You can't be what you can't see, so I think that a more realistic representation of real women who are athletes in any industry, specifically beauty, is a positive thing."