Sha’Carri Richardson reflects on the symbolism behind her style and viral wig throw

Sha’Carri Richardson reflects on the symbolism behind her style and viral wig throw

“My (track) lane is my runway,” said track star Sha’Carri Richardson, explaining how she brings her creativity and style to the sport.

Beyond her record-breaking career, track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson has captivated audiences worldwide with her unique style. Inspired by track and field legends such as Gail Devers and the late Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo-Jo), Richardson became known early on for her striking wigs and unique nail extensions.

So much so that when the star returned to the national track and field stage after being disqualified from the 2021 Olympics, she went viral for ditching her wig just before running at the 2023 U.S. Championships, revealing long cornrows underneath.

“Now I’m back here with you and I’m ready, mentally, physically and emotionally,” the sprinter said after his victory, as theGrio previously reported. “I’m here to say, ‘I’m not back, I’m better.'”

Now, a year after her viral moment, Richardson revealed in a behind-the-scenes interview with Vogue how a sudden idea quickly became an iconic moment in her career.

“I will never change my confidence. But at the same time, I’ve learned that there is a way I can wear it much more gracefully. That’s what’s driving this moment,” she told the publication. “I was only able to get to this point through experience and having the right people around me. I know that no matter what I do, no matter what decision I make, it comes from me.”

Her hairdresser Key Rentz, who is responsible for Richardson’s braids, admitted at the time that she was confused by the track and field star’s plans.

“I just thought, ‘Oh no, she didn’t like her hair. Why is she still wearing the wig?'” Rentz recalled. When she saw Richardson rip the wig off, she said, “I just thought, ‘Oh my God. Yes, ma’am, I know that’s right.’ I understood the symbolism when she did it. I understood what she meant by that.”

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Even though she no longer wears bright wigs on the track, Richardson continues to wear long acrylic nails when she races. The athlete’s nails are not only a fashion statement, but also a part of her legacy and track history. As she prepares to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Richardson says her elaborate manicures are an ode to her grandmother, who raised her to wear long nails, and to Black athletes like Flo-Jo, who continue to inspire her bold style.

“Flo-Jo’s influence on me is definitely her creativity and her freedom to express herself in a way that no other athlete has ever done,” she explained. “She shows beauty and can still show that she’s worked hard.”

Just as her predecessors paved the way for her to express her creativity in sports, Richardson hopes her career shows that “athletes can be as fashionable as they are athletes.”

“Fashion and sport are one and the same… an expression of the self, an expression of flow.

“For me, fashion is the flow of the body. Fashion is the flow of expression. Fashion is about the way I move my body. The way I walk down the runway is almost the same as I could strut down the runway,” she said, adding: “Looking good, feeling good, doing good. It all has to do with the mental, the emotional and ultimately the physical aspect.”

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