Why Wearing Makeup At The Olympics Empowers Me

Aja Evans is a U.S. Olympic bobsledder competing in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. As a self-proclaimed "glam girl," she explains, in her own words, what beauty means to her. This story was told to Kelsey Castañon and edited for length and clarity.
Growing up, I loved watching my mom get ready to go ice skating. That was like going to the club for her. She did this sleek ponytail that really enhanced her bone structure, and once I got old enough to wear extensions, I would beg her to do my hair the same way. Her go-to lip color is this bold magenta shade — it's so pretty. She still wears it to this day.
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I learned a lot about beauty from her, but I didn't really get into makeup until later. My life as a high schooler wasn't what you typically see in 2018. I was always outdoors, getting down and dirty and playing sports. For a while, I was just enjoying being a kid. Then, I started becoming interested in beauty as I left for college — or, if I'm being honest, probably even after that. Now, I love being able to change my look. I don't use makeup to hide behind anything — I use it to make me feel powerful.
Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images.
Mother Knows Best
When I have a red lip and winged eyeliner on, I'm a force to be reckoned with. People tend to shy away from a bold colors because they don't feel confident, but you've got to just own it. I learned that from my mom. I’m not gonna put her age out there, but she is still rocking that magenta color. Her approach to makeup was always to own whatever look makes you feel good, do it because you want to, and embrace the bold from the beginning.
Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images.
Skin First
I'm a makeup junkie, so taking care of my skin has become a big priority. With bobsledding, I'm sweating under a helmet all the time, and that takes a toll. Makeup can mask a lot, but for me, it all starts with healthy skin.
I love a good face mask — I've tried them all! This morning, I decided to do this bubble charcoal mask from GlamGlow. Oh my gosh, I loved it. I put it on and immediately it started oxidizing. My whole face looked like one big foam, and it felt like it was getting in all my pores. I also tried this 24K Gold Mask that makes your skin all glowy. That's my biggest indulgence: hopping out of the shower, jumping in a robe, and watching Netflix with a face mask on. In these crazy cold temperatures, I also try to stay as hydrated as possible. Dryness can be a big distraction for me, so I use the Olay Cleansing Infusion Body Wash. That way I can stay focused on the race track.
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Breaking Down Barriers
I'm an athlete and my mom taught me to be a strong, competitive person. I've never felt pressured to present myself a certain way just because bobsledding is a sport dominated by men. I feel empowered. When I first got into it, I went in with the mentality of an athlete, regardless of my gender. The U.S. women's team has such a strong presence in the sport, and I started realizing African American women really resonated with my story. So I started to wear that, and own that I am a strong Black woman in this field. It's become an empowerment thing for me.
Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images.
Game Face
My power and confidence in the gym definitely translates to my makeup and hair. If my brows are done, I feel unstoppable. Brows really shape your face. It's one of the things people see first, so I always try to take care of them. I have my Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in my bag in case a little of it rubs off on my helmet, so I'm ready to fix them up before I step on the podium. When your brows are on point, you can take on the world.
I have my go-to makeup formula for competition. Even though I wear a helmet, you'll still see my lashes popping, or I'll wear a blue mascara or some kind of winged or colored eyeliner — just something to make my eyes pop through the visor. People might not see it, but I still do it for myself. I'm that person regardless. I enjoy creating looks and doing makeup, so even if it's just a little peephole where you can see my eyes, you're gonna get the most out of that damn peephole, I can tell you that much.
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