Lipstick and Layups: The Story of Makeup in Sports and Female Self-Expression

by Chance Team

It’s a form of expression”.

U.S. Olympic team athlete Shannon Rowbury spoke a whole lotta sense when she spoke to USA Today back in 2016. The 1,500-meter runner explained why she chose to wear bright red lipstick during races. Rowbury said the decision was, in part, a way of honoring her late grandmother, and that putting it on before an event calms her down and centers her. It was Shannon’s other comment, though, that caught our eye:

It’s a form of expression,” said Rowbury, “especially in track and field where my uniform is provided by my sponsor (or the USOC). I basically have my uniform and my shoes and there’s not a lot of expression that’s allowed and there aren’t many ways to show your personality.”

In many circles at the highest level of sports, there seems to be an accepted mindset that self-expression and success are mutually exclusive. They cannot co-exist. They just can’t get along. Any acts of style or uniqueness are somehow rebellious and frowned upon.

Take one look at Chance’s selection of unique and bold sports balls, and you won’t be surprised to hear that this approach to being a top athlete doesn’t sit too well with us. It’s something that we believe needs to be addressed — though it’s far from the only stigma that needs to be overcome in sports…

Hurdles to Overcome

Female athletes have enough battles to fight as it is, aside from onlookers trying to tell them how they should look. Take tennis, for example. The fight for equality in both pay and competition formats continues, while the cringe-worthy media coverage is only beginning to be pushed away.


Many female sports-lovers don’t even get the chance to show off their unique style on the professional stage. Opportunities for women to break through are overshadowed by those of men in many sports, notably basketball. Even if you do break through and make it to the top as a woman, the problems don’t stop there. Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson has talked about how she witnessed first-hand how the looks of female athletes took precedent over their ability. Sexism in general was a major talking point throughout the 2016 Olympic Games.


It takes self-expression and one-of-a-kind characters to break through boundaries like this. Serena Williams fits the bill perfectly, constantly trying out new styles, calling out the haters, and never being afraid to be herself. Serena’s sporting prowess may have been what got her to the top of the tennis world, but it’s these characteristics that are unique to her — and that she has never shied away from — that have made Williams a global superstar.


The moral of the story? Considering all the hoops female athletes are forced to jump through nowadays, people caring about how they look, or the fashion decisions they make, seems a bit futile, right? In fact, having that confidence and willingness to make those bold choices often helps them survive in the shark tank of professional sports. It certainly seems to have helped Serena Williams.


Portrait of young african female with curly hair smiling in health club. Happy and beautiful fitness woman at gym.


Personality vs Performance

Let’s go back to Rowbury’s comment at the top, saying how there “...aren’t many ways to show your personality” in her line of work.


While the pursuit of greatness in any given sport might be thrilling and ambitious, what it often lacks is pure characters and personalities. How many times have you watched an interview with a competitor at a major sporting event, and they just come out with the same old cliches, wearing the same old sponsored gear? We always hear about great champions being ‘molded’ into stars, but during that process, it seems like unique characteristics find their way to the cutting room floor.


From tactics boards, to ‘marginal gains’, to chasing statistics, there’s a certain uniform nature to a lot of world-class sports that doesn’t sit well with many people. Where’s the fun in sacrificing style and character to be good at something? Where’s the fun in doing things the way everybody else does?

Female athletes and sports stars who wear makeup do it because they choose to. It’s not a tactic for success. It’s not a directive given by coaches or organizations. It is a choice, made by them and them only, to express themselves how they want to while doing what they love. We’re here for that.


Self-Expression — However You Want to Show It

Sport without self-expression is not much fun at all — and choosing to wear lipstick or speaking your mind are not the only ways to put your unique stamp on how you participate.


At Chance, we allow you to be yourself on the court or field not just through what you do, but what you do it with. From bold and daring soccer balls to bright and fresh volleyballs, we want to give you the gear that matches your desire to break convention and be yourself, no matter the obstacles in your way.


So, whether it’s a bright yellow basketball or bright red lipstick, you do you. The haters can take a seat on the bleachers.


Chance aims to give players a new level of empowerment in sports, with a bold selection of sports balls that go against the grain and dare to be different. Find out more about what Chance is all about.