Chakari Richardson’s looks are over the top – that’s why it matters fashion

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Chakari Richardson’s looks are over the top – that’s why it matters fashion

DrEven though you are not a part of Team USA yet a Failed drug testYesterday, Sha’Carri Richardson reappeared in an ad for Beats by Dre filmed with a new song from Kanye West. With her trademark long nails, long eyelashes, and fire-slicked hair, Richardson has emphasized that, whether she’s an Olympic or not, she’s one of the most exciting fashion icons of 2021.

Sha'Carri Richardson in Kanye West's audio ad for Beats Studio Buds.
Sha’Carri Richardson in Kanye West’s audio ad for Beats Studio Buds. Photo: YouTube

This style is calledadditional“(In a good way), it is a celebration of aesthetic excess. Being ‘excessive’ is an important act of self-ownership, self-expression, and assertiveness,” says Eric Darnell-Pritchard, a professor in the University of Arkansas Department of English (who uses the pronoun they). That this visual statement of “over the top” also plays as an important statement about the efficacy of black femininity.’We see it in Richardson’s statement.’I’m that girl‘But we also see it in its aesthetics. It is essential for black women to do this and to be supported in that because they are not given space freely in the world.”

Another aspect that fuels Richardson’s unique aesthetic is her hometown of Dallas, Texas. “I think there are some Southern sensibilities and pride in her style aesthetics,” says fashion historian Darnell Jamal Lisby. “From her hair, nails, clothing, and demeanor, the desire to visually enliven through personal style is a Southern desire to the bone.”

Richardson's bejeweled nails.
Richardson’s bejeweled nails. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Pritchard says this geographic location is synonymous with black beauty celebrations. “The American South has played an insignificantly important role in articulating the beauty of black expressive cultures,” they say, “particularly when black intersects with the expression of the poor or working class.”

Putting her style into the canon of black pop culture icons, Pritchard references Missy Elliott and the characters Nessie (Halle Berry) and Mickey (Natalie Dessel Reid) in the 1997 film B*A*P*S, in which the characters don glowing clothes. “Also consider Coco’s extra red nails from SWV and Lil’ Kim, with her nails decked out on a hundred dollar bill,” they say.

Richardson celebrates after winning the first round of the semi-finals in the women's 100 meters at the US Olympic track and field in June.
Richardson celebrates after winning the first round of the semi-finals in the women’s 100 meters at the US Olympic track and field in June. Photo: Ashley Landis/The Associated Press

Richardson also visually connects with the sportswear pioneer Florence Griffith Gwenr (Flo-Jo) who lit up the 88 Olympics. “Flo Jo is the direct reference here,” Lisby says. “With her exuberant, glamorous, and pretty outfits and her very ornate nails, which range from four to six inches, she was the same as a black woman.”

Griffith Joyner crafted her visual self-portrait, achieving the larger-than-life, “superhero-like”, as Lisby calls it, by designing her own clothing. She was also a nail technician (she supported herself by working in a salon while training for the Olympics in 1988) so she had a professional understanding of how to display her nail art in public. “Her style was all about owning oneself: doing the job it came for, but emphasizing belonging to oneself while doing it.”

Richardson at the USATF Golden Games and World Athletics Continental Tour event in California in May.
Richardson at the USATF Golden Games and World Athletics Continental Tour event in California in May. Photography: Harry Ho/Getty Images

Like Joyner, Richardson uses fashion as a tool of representation. “Flo Joe laid the groundwork: using style as a way to culturally connect with their sporting craft and to remain visually a voice for the communities they represent,” Lisby says.

Griffith Joyner has been criticized for her style on the track, while saying that people thought her famous one-legged outfit was “shocking.” Dr. Pritchard believes that the way Richardson’s style has been received is indicative of how far we have come in allowing black women to be exactly themselves in the public eye.

Florence Griffith Joyner costume
Florence Griffith Joyner one-legged costume. Photo: Tony Duffy/Getty Images

They say, “Flo-Jo received a lot of opposition at the time, with a comment that was racist, classist and misogynistic. How people would react to Sha’Carri Richardson would say a lot about how far things had come and it didn’t come in terms of black women being able to occupy that space.” without sarcasm.” The support Richardson received after her drug test, the likes of Roxanne Jay And also from the fashion industry, he suggested at least a little progress.

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