Rachel Irwin continues her reminders of why she loves the sport in the post-Olympic period. Read Part One
2. The Glamour
Sure, we all know that in reality, gymnastics isn’t actually a particularly glamorous or perfect sport. But the fact that it can be pretty, ultra-feminine and sparkly always adds that extra thrill for me. It’s not even that the gymnasts always look perfect, because they don’t. Often they can be wearing hideous, clashing leotards that most people would never be seen dead in. Or they look ridiculously cheesy and out-dated. But my superficial self loves it all.
I love the hairdos. The slicked-back buns, the so-messy-this-took-me-15-minutes-to-do half-ponytails, the bits of fluff that are apparently meant to be a stylish fringe and the cropped 90s ‘dos. It doesn’t matter whether they actually look pretty or not, it’s just all part of the fun. The high foreheads shining under the fluorescent, the hard and crusty effect of way too much hairspray, and, of course, the glitter! Remember the gold glitter spray of the Sydney 2000 Russian team? That was Hard. Core. I recall thinking to myself, Oh! I didn’t realise they all had such ginger-coloured hair! Until I realised.
I love the leos. As The Couch Gymnast has lovingly detailed for us over the years, there are some big hates to go with those big loves, but in reality, I adore it all. If it wasn’t for the absolute nightmares of some leotards, there wouldn’t be the entertainment I can get out of looking at them, shuddering, for hours. And there really have been some truly beautiful leos over the years, ones that have hit right on my girly-girl heart and made me smile in wonder. There is even something about the actual shape and design of leotards that just goes so well with a sport which mixes athleticism and grace so wonderfully. God bless the leo. Watching the gymnasts in them makes me want to go out and buy one for myself just so I can be as COOL as them. (But I don’t, so that I can be left enjoying that sweet daydream rather than the shock of reality if I was to put one on…)
And of course, there is the make-up. I don’t know one girl who didn’t watch London 2012 and not notice Aliya Mustafina’s eye shadow. I thought it was gorgeous. Sure, it might have been over-the-top. Sure, she may have misspent all her pocket money on it. But isn’t that the whole point? Didn’t it just perfectly finish off her totally awesome world-domination-with-class-and-poise demeanour? She wanted to be there and wanted to win so badly. She didn’t give anything away in her expression, in her supreme, pitch-perfect professionalism the whole week, but her eye shadow told us of her fierce pride.
There have been so many great examples of shining, tacky make-up over the years of elite gymnastics. YouTube-ing old competitions (as long as they’re of sufficient quality to be able to see the gymnasts’ faces!) is as much fun in terms of the fantastic array of make-up we get to see as it is for the movements themselves. There’s the eye glitter. The cheek glitter. The overdone blusher. The lip-smacking goodness of lip colour that never seems to last the entire competition. I swear I never wore that much make-up when I was 16. But it’s all part of it. These girls are superstars, right?! They deserve to be able to sport whatever make-up and hairdos they want. And it only makes it all the more entertaining for the spectator.
Read Part Three of Gymnastics Love
Article: Rachel Irwin
Photo: Aliya Mustafina
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