SportsTrack & Field

Raevyn Rogers’ race-day makeup takes many meanings



Look good, feel good, run good.

That’s why Raevyn Rogers dedicates an hour and a half of her pre-race routine to work on her appearance. The Oregon 800-meter specialist usually straightens her hair for a superhero effect, contours her face, attaches eyelashes and applies a dark lipstick color – dark green is her favorite – to channel her inner warrior.

Ever since Rogers won her first NCAA title two years ago donning a flower crown, the four-time NCAA 800-meter champion has kept the winner’s crown sitting pretty on her hair. Sometimes it is afro-like, other times it is straight as a ruler and reaches her hip.

Raevyn Rogers’ style has evolved throughout her collegiate career. From left to right: 2015, 2016, 2017. (Photos from Emerald archives)

Rogers didn’t always know how to channel her feminism while exploring her athletic passion. When she first started running fast in middle school, someone passed a comment likening her to a boy because she was good at what she did.

That prompted Rogers to look up how to be “girlier,” which led her to adopt pink as her favorite color and attempt to match her eyeshadow with her clothes.

“That’s an issue as far as girls being good in whatever sport they do and then being compared to a guy,” Rogers said.

Then there’s the conundrum that female athletes face when they put effort into channeling their feminism. Rogers tweeted a photo of the 4×400-meter relay team at Florida Relays, in which she and her teammates Elexis Guster and Makenzie Dunmore boasted dark lipstick colors and had on a full face of makeup. A male Twitter user marveled at how the women “had their face beat” just for a race.

“First of all, we don’t ‘just run’,” Rogers said. “Like, how dare you? Just surface level running. I don’t put on makeup to go jog. We’re going to put some dark lipstick on, and we’re going to war.”

Makeup also serves as an opportunity for Rogers, an art major, to express her artistic side. The small-town concept of Eugene has also allowed her to explore her creativity because people aren’t afraid to be who they are.

In the end, it’s all about personal taste, but Rogers lives by the motto: Why not?

“You never know. It may alter your attitude going into the race,” Rogers said.

For collegiate athletes, the track and field season lasts less than half a year and provides limited opportunities to participate at meets with large viewership.

Rogers capitalizes on the limited opportunities to “put on a show,” such as the Penn Relays, where collegiate athletes get to compete against professional athletes from the U.S. and famed sprint nation Jamaica. Of course, there’s the NCAA Outdoor Championships, the end goal for the collegiate season, for which Rogers qualified for the third time at the NCAA West Regionals in May.

Before putting on a show, however, they have to rehearse. Rogers’ teammate, Alaysha Johnson, regularly wears a full face of makeup at practice to test which products can weather the sweat and, particularly in Eugene, the rain. This sometimes draws comments from the male-dominated coaching staff, but ultimately, the athletes deliver results while expressing themselves.

“I’m all about being different and just being individual,” said Johnson, who estimated that she spends anywhere from $60 to $200 a month on makeup products. “I think that’s what makes it such a powerful thing.”

One of Rogers’ observations is that the shorter the distance, the more likely athletes are to apply makeup. While Johnson, a hurdler, is surrounded by many others in her event group who dress up for races, Rogers does not share that privilege, leading her to draw inspiration from those in the shorter distances such as Johnson.

Rogers also looks up to throwers such as Michelle Carter and Gwen Berry, members of an event group that has recently been at the forefront of battling body shaming as they break barriers about what a female should look like.

One of the outliers among middle-distance runners who wear distinct makeup, along with Rogers, is elite runner Shannon Rowbury. Rowbury applies a deep red shade of lipstick in memory of her grandmother Nonie. It is unmistakable on the track because her competitors hardly ever rival her in the makeup department.

Qualified automatically yesterday. Now, I'm excited for the semi-finals tomorrow. Tune in at 9:30PM Rio time.

A post shared by Shannon Rowbury (@shannonrowbury) on

Though Rowbury is not as consistent in applying her signature lipstick, she said it has reached the point where, if she doesn’t apply it, people would be disappointed.

Rowbury sees it as part of a bigger idea.

“Women can be multi-dimensional beings,” said Rowbury, who represents the Portland-based Nike Oregon Project. “It doesn’t have to be either fashion or athlete. It can be ‘and’.”

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Romaine Soh

Romaine Soh

Romaine is a senior at the University of Oregon majoring in journalism. A budding track and field nerd, she is actively learning the technicalities of ball sports to compensate for her lack of hand-eye coordination.