The laws of aerodynamics shake in their boots every time Christina Clemons (née Manning) takes the track. While some runners opt for slicked-back ponytails to reduce any possible nanoscopic friction between the air and their hair, Clemons rocks whatever the hell hairstyle she pleases — space buns, braided crowns, nostalgic accessories galore — and breezes past her competition just as easily.
She did exactly that while qualifying for the Olympics in June, crushing the final 100-Meter Hurdle Trials race with several dazzling barrettes tucked into her hair and kitschy Cool Ranch Doritos earrings dangling from her earlobes. An official Doritos partnership ensued, and the buzzy moment left us wanting to know more about Clemons's past beauty looks, so we got in touch with the first-time Olympian for the inside scoop.
A 31-year-old athlete originally hailing from Maryland, Clemons looks to the '90s for much of her hair and makeup inspiration, often wearing butterfly clips, fuzzy scrunchies, dark lipstick, and embellished barrettes while sailing over the finish line. "I'm a '90s girl. That was my era of childhood," she told POPSUGAR. "My husband and I always talk about how we belong to the '90s. If we were young adults during that time, I believe we would've had the time of our lives." Additionally, she seeks out new beauty ideas from a source that's become a go-to among fellow millennials. "I can't deny that Instagram's Explore page helps me come up with some of my looks," she said. "I love seeing all of the different beauties on there and their creativity." Yep, that makes two of us.
"For competitions, I'm always excited and full of confidence, so I like to show up with bold looks."
Though Clemons's flawless competition beauty looks are executed to perfection, she rarely plans them ahead of time, instead deciding how she'll style her hair and which lipstick shade she'll swipe on the morning of each race. "Whatever I wear depends on what I'm feeling that day," the track and field star said. "For competitions, I'm always excited and full of confidence, so I like to show up with bold looks. During competitions, I'm in my own world and I'm doing my own thing. It doesn't matter who doesn't like what I have on. When I look in the mirror before I leave for my race, it's just me. It's the same when I compete — it's just me and my 10 hurdles."
For Clemons, the surge of confidence that comes from looking runway-ready on the track is like an added "superpower," she said. "A lot of people may not expect female athletes to look feminine. I want young girls and even older women to feel they can be their feminine selves while they participate in sports or exercise. I believe it's important to show our femininity while being athletic because it is a strength, not a weakness."
"It's important to show our femininity while being athletic because it is a strength, not a weakness."
Oh, and any potential haters who may happen to disagree or wonder, "But won't that slow her down? Why even bother? What's the point?" can kindly see themselves to the door. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with coming to the start line all dolled up," Clemons said. "I train like a dog. Trust me when I say my hair and makeup cannot take away from my performance." Say it louder for the people in the back.
While we not-so-patiently wait to see all the fun hair and makeup looks Clemons wears during her races at the Games in Tokyo, join us in admiring some of her coolest beauty moments to date ahead.