From Scrunchies to Colored Eyeshadow: Olympic Hopeful Alicia Sacramone Dishes On the Mysterious World of Gymnastics Beauty

It's a summer Olympics year and we couldn't be more excited. Gymnastics are by far the most interesting of all the sports (at least for us)--we love watching a bunch of powerhouse women make their bodies do superhuman things. We got to chat with one such wonder woman, 2008 Beijing Olympian--and hopefully a member of the 2012 Olympic team--gymnast Alicia Sacramone. We had some very serious questions for Sacramone, which she was gracious enough to answer. Click through to find out why so many gymnasts wear hair scrunchies, the prevailing theory about eye makeup and leotards, why you won't see crazy nail art on any Olympic gymnasts, and why Sacramone would love to become a designer.
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It's a summer Olympics year and we couldn't be more excited. Gymnastics are by far the most interesting of all the sports (at least for us)--we love watching a bunch of powerhouse women make their bodies do superhuman things. We got to chat with one such wonder woman, 2008 Beijing Olympian--and hopefully a member of the 2012 Olympic team--gymnast Alicia Sacramone. We had some very serious questions for Sacramone, which she was gracious enough to answer. Click through to find out why so many gymnasts wear hair scrunchies, the prevailing theory about eye makeup and leotards, why you won't see crazy nail art on any Olympic gymnasts, and why Sacramone would love to become a designer.
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

It's a summer Olympics year and we couldn't be more excited. Gymnastics are by far the most interesting of all the sports (at least for us)--we love watching a bunch of powerhouse women make their bodies do superhuman things. We got to chat with one such wonder woman, 2008 Beijing Olympian--and hopefully a member of the 2012 Olympic team--gymnast Alicia Sacramone.

We had some very serious questions for Sacramone, which she was gracious enough to answer. Click through to find out why so many gymnasts wear hair scrunchies, the prevailing theory about eye makeup and leotards, why you won't see crazy nail art on any Olympic gymnasts, and why Sacramone would love to become a designer.

Fashionista: What is your typical day like when you’re training? Alicia Sacramone: Monday through Friday I’m in the gymnastics gym from 8:30 until around 11 or 11:30, and then two days a week I lift in the afternoons, and I throw in some cardio and rehab for my foot. [Ed. note: Alicia is recovering from an Achilles injury.] On the weekends occasionally, in all my spare time, I do some pilates as well.

How do you eat to support all that work? Do you have a nutritionist? When I’m training really heavily and during competition season I try to shy away from dairy and gluten. It just really makes a difference in how I train, how I recover and how I rest. During my off time I’ll splurge every now and then and have some frozen yogurt or chocolate.

Do you have a certain go-to beauty look for competition? Everyone usually looks like they put some effort into their makeup. You just kind of match your eye shadow to your leotard because that’s a big deal. You’ve gotta match!

Do you wear lipstick too? I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever seen a red statement lip on a gymnast. Red lipstick makes me a little bit nervous. But I do try every now and then when I’m feeling really rambunctious.

Talk to me about competition hair. Is it not good to have hair flopping around? It’s supposed to be very well put together, clean, slicked back—hair spray, gel, bobby pins, clips—we do the works. We have a number of hair elastics in our hair keeping it back and secure. It definitely is a process to make sure it stays up. I personally try not to use too much [hair spray]. I’m usually grabbing dinner after competition with my coaches or my agent and I want to be able to brush it out really quick and still have a real hair style.

Please explain to me why scrunchies are still a thing in gymnastics.

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

I refuse to wear a scrunchy. I honestly think they’re bad luck and I hate them. I don’t know why people think they’re so great and why they’re still a trend. It’s not fashionable or cute!

Do other girls think they’re good luck? That may be it. Some girls wear ribbons which is also not my thing. I think each competitor has a superstitious thing that works for them.

Your hands and feet must be a mess from the powder and all the stress you put them through. I like to pamper myself before I compete and get a manicure and pedicure but gymnasts' feet are pretty beat up. I’ve broken pretty much every toe, but my feet still look functional so I’m happy about that.

Nail polish and nail art are so popular right now. Why don’t you do nail art to match your leotard? I honestly wish we could but it’s in our rules--we have to have neutral nails or no polish whatsoever.

That is so sad! I know! Because I love all the fun colors now.

I heard that you used to work for a designer. Tell me about that. I worked for a mens’ clothing line in California called Tank Farm. I worked with the owners interning and just learning the ropes. I design all my own leotards.

Would you like design to be a post-gymnastics career path? I would love that! I'm definitely into fashion. Being an athlete, it’s always difficult trying to find clothes that fit. I’ve been playing around with the idea of maybe starting a clothing line that caters to athletes. My boyfriend's ridiculously tall and has these enormous legs and can’t find jeans that fit, and I’m ridiculously short and can’t find jeans that fit. So I think there might be a niche.

What designers or brands do you really love? I’m a big Alice & Olivia fan. I think their stuff is so cute. [Ed. note: Attention, Stacey Bendet! Make Alicia some cute leotards/hair ties!] Aqua always makes really reasonably priced clothese that fit well and look really good on everybody, too.

Last year you posed in ESPN’s nude edition (below). What was that like? It was a little nervewracking. Obviously being comfortable with your body is a big issue and I worked really hard to get into the shape I was in. I was really proud of it and that’s why then the opportunity came up I was like, this is something that’s really neat and I think when I’m older and I look back on this I’ll be like, "Dang I looked good when I was in my 20s!”

There’s been a lot in the news lately about body image and asking magazines to show more realistic looking girls instead of super skinny models. How do you feel about this? It is something that is a harsh reality. Models are definitely gorgeous and designer clothes are made to fit them like a glove but for everyday women--we're not built that way. Sometimes I wish I was 5'7" and skinny and glamorous. But I’m 5'1" and muscular--and I’m good with my body the way it is. Every girl should be proud of how beautiful they are inside and out no matter how they look.

Amen.

Sacramone has partnered up with P&G (who owns a ton of beauty brands like CoverGirl, Olay and Pantene) to support youth sports. For every "LIKE" they receive on the P&G Beauty Facebook page, they'll donate $1 to the P&G/Team USA Youth Sports Fund, up to $100,000. So get clicking!

Photo: Francesco Carrozzini for ESPN magazine

Photo: Francesco Carrozzini for ESPN magazine