If you happened to read my post about appearing on "Project Accessory" in November, you know I hate wearing a lot of makeup. In fact, the way I looked on "Project" threw me into a day-long depression: I didn't look like myself, so I didn't feel like myself. Other than my beloved red lipstick, this sentiment summarizes my feelings about all other cosmetics touching my face.
So I surprised most of all myself by volunteering for a "gymnast makeover" when Stylelist was given the opportunity to interview Olympian Alicia Sacramone. With 10 medals under her belt, Alicia is the most decorated U.S. gymnast in World Championship history. She won a silver medal in Beijing, and she's hopefully heading to London this August for the 2012 Olympics. She was also one of the first athletes to be a CoverGirl (in 2008), an experience she of course calls "a huge honor."
What exactly is a "gymnast makeover" you ask? Well, it's something Simone, the Stylelist beauty editor who was made over by Snooki, and I made up. We'd noticed gymnasts, like figure skaters, wear a lot of makeup and figured there was a special technique to looking camera-ready while drenched in sweat. Simone and I also pictured a lot of hairspray and barrettes. It was too interesting an opportunity to pass up.
(Scroll down to see the results.)
When I arrived at the New York City hotel room where Alicia was doing press for her new gig as the beauty ambassador for Proctor & Gamble’s Beauty & Grooming sponsorship of Team USA, I was struck by a) how incredibly pretty she is and b) how much she resembles Lea Michele. She said she gets that a lot, and about other starlets: "someone told me [I looked like] Selena Gomez the other day, I was like, ‘Uhhh, I don’t know about that one.’”
Alicia is into beauty. She recently took lessons so she could do the makeup at her cousin's wedding, and she finds herself mentoring younger gymnasts in makeup during training camps. Gymnastics is “a girly sport,” she says, so makeup “makes it a bit more fun.”
As someone who doesn’t have a competitive bone in my body (I took four years of aerobics to fulfill my gym requirement in high school), I’m fascinated by the psychology of professional athletes and how they get into the competitive midset. It seems the pre-competition beauty routine is an integral part of Alicia’s mental preparation. “Usually my parents come to the competitions with me, and I’ll be like, ‘Alright, see ya,’ and kick them out of the room. Then I’ll have some alone time and put on some music. Usually I do my hair first because it gets in the way. Then I’ll do light foundation. Then I do eyes [eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara] and some bronzer and blush at the very end. It’s pretty natural-looking, nothing too crazy.”
At least Alicia and I share a beauty philosophy: “I personally believe that less is more and you’re just using it to enhance your features, not trying to give yourself a new face. I feel like there’s a decent amount of women that do that, and it’s like, why cover up what God gave you? Just put some stuff on to make you feel good, and then get on your way.”
As she applies my makeup, our talk turns to boys, of course. I learn she’s dating Brady Quinn, the back-up quarterback on the Denver Broncos. Which means he's the back-up to TIM TEBOW. I may not understand football, but I understand celebrity and I know exactly who Tim Tebow is. Of football's favorite Christian, Alicia says “He’s a nice kid. Very, very polite. Shakes my hand every time I see him, [even though I’m] like, ‘Tim, we’ve met numerous times.’ But okay, that’s fine – he can keep shaking my hand if he wants. He’s nice.”
What would she do if she not gymnastics? “I’ve always secretly wished that I had a good voice so I could be a singer or something, but I don’t. I’d totally try and be the next Britney Spears-type. I would dance that stage off, I’d have so much fun,” she laughs. “It’s absolutely miserable though, if you hear my voice.” I mention this hasn't stopped most pop stars, but she's not persuaded.
In the end, Alicia is faring just fine with her day job. As for her hobby as a makeup artist, she did a lovely job. As a makeup-phobe, I felt better about it than I expected (see the entire process beloww). But the thing I really liked? The slicked back hair. It felt so Robert Palmer backup singer.
Alicia is also excited: “You have gymnast hair, it’s so short, I love it.” "What is gymnast hair?” I ask. “A lot of gymnasts keep shorter hair because it’s easier to put up,” Alicia answers. “But for me, I rebel against the system a little bit by having long hair. I like to use this as my leverage, but they told me I look taller when I wear a bun. So I was like, ‘you guys know my insecurity about my height.’”
Insecure about something that makes her a successful gymnast? “I just feel like everyone’s so dang tall around me and if I’m ever trying to maneuver around a city or store, I get lost. And people can’t find me. People will look right over me, or bump into me. It’s a little bit rough.” Her secret to dating a 6’4” football player? “Big heels.” Tips for dressing as a petite woman? “The kids department" at Target.
Back to the hair, since that’s the beauty look I most closely associate with gymnasts. Not one bobby pin or barrette touched my head. Not always the case, says Alicia. “Some of the girls who do rhythmic gymnastics literally have their hair so tight...one of the girls on our team was like ‘I can’t close my eyes!’ And [the doctor] who examined her says, ‘Oh, you just have to loosen your hair.’" Alicia laughs. "My face hurts thinking about that.”
Photos by Bobby Doherty
Also, check out our video on getting your foundation right -- no matter what type of coverage you need.
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