Michelle Carter throws like a girl—a girl who wins Olympic gold medals.
At this year’s Rio Olympics, Carter became the first woman in U.S. history to take home the gold in shot put, and in her own way, she is championing for women to know that it’s okay to be a strong athlete in a previously male-dominated sport, while also being feminine.
“I think now, it’s like, ‘You know what? We’re girls and we can throw heavy balls and be in the dirt and we look good while we’re doing it,’” Carter tells The New Yorker. “I think it’s bringing more attention to the sport and girls are realizing, Hey, I can do this and it’s O.K. to do this as a girl.”
It wasn’t until 1948 that women competed in the sport, and even today, a strong stigma still surrounds shot-putting and the fact that it requires a great deal of strength and muscle to throw successfully—something that’s, unfortunately, more commonly attributed to a man’s abilities.
But Carter is throwing that stigma away, further than the record-breaking distance she tosses a shot put ball. Because along with being a gold medal–winning thrower, Carter, who’s also a makeup artist, is winning first place in false lashes and red lipstick, to boot.
“Should I wear my false lashes or take the time I want to take so I can feel good when I go out on the field? Because nobody else was really doing that. And I thought, No: I’m not going to change what I believe I should look like to fit anybody else’s standards. I believe if you look your best, you’re going to feel your best, you’re going to do your best.”
Carter, who goes by Shot Diva on social media, is also an advocate for positive body image, so much that parents ask her to talk to their daughters about being comfortable in their skin, no matter their build. Says Carter, “The parents say, ‘Can you talk to my daughter and say that it’s O.K.? That she can have muscles?’ They’ll say, ‘I show her pictures of you so they can know she’s good at what she does but still looks like a girl. She wears dresses.’ It releases people to be whoever they want to be in the sport.”
So go ahead—channel your inner Shot Diva, swipe on some MAC Ruby Woo ($17), and break barriers just like Carter.