“For her third World Cup, Francisca Ordega wanted to stand out. She had worn her hair in dreadlocks for her first and had a wavy, blonde ponytail for the second, but this time she wanted something bolder.
“I was looking for green and white,” she said about her search for hair extensions in the colors of her native Nigeria. “But then I saw the blue and purple — and I had to have them.” She expedited an order all the way from the United States and braided the colorful strands into her hair herself.
But after the team’s 3-0 loss to Norway in their opening game, Ordega logged on to Twitter to find that people were blaming the defeat on her makeup, nails and long hair — it didn’t “make her run well,” one user wrote.
Some watching the World Cup seem perplexed that athleticism and femininity could coexist — Is Alex Morgan wearing makeup? Were Sydney Leroux’s eyelashes fake? — or in Ordega’s case, they were irritated. It’s grounded in antiquated notions of how women, and specifically female athletes, should present themselves — strong but not too strong, athletic yet feminine, feminine but not so feminine that they would wear lipstick.”
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