Winning Look

Queen Harrison Claye Has Thoughts About The Revealing Team USA Track Uniforms

Plus, the Olympian shares her beauty rituals.

Olympian track star Queen Harrison Claye speaks with Bustle.

Queen Harrison Claye is a dedicated wife, an adoring mom, and an Olympian who sprints and hurdles for a living. She also happens to be a total glam girl who doesn’t shy away from bold makeup on track.

“I've been in this sport for over a decade now, and I've seen the beautiful progression of allowing women to express themselves through makeup and beauty in the sports realm,” Claye tells Bustle via Zoom. “You don't have to sacrifice who you are as a person. We deserve a space in this sport for lipstick, for the dazzled edges, the blue eyeliner.”

Claye likens her affinity for vibrant liquid lipsticks and rhinestone-studded edges while competing to Beyoncé performing on tour: All of the hard work has been done at home, and all that’s left to do is take the stage. So why not feel her most glamorous and confident self while doing it?

Aside from her ever-evolving hair and makeup looks, Claye points to waxing — specifically with European Wax Center, who is a recent partner to the Team USA athletes — as a major part of her pre-race routine.

Here, the Olympian opens up to Bustle all about the importance of waxing as a runner, her current beauty faves, and what album she’s currently listening to on repeat.

The Team USA track and field uniforms were recently revealed. What were your initial thoughts on the controversial cut?

When the uniforms were unveiled for the games this summer and I saw the cut on those briefs, all I was thinking was, “I'm so glad I got me a wax pass.” I mean, everything is out.

Courtesy of Queen Harrison Claye

Obviously, it led to discussions about the value of female athletes being about more than just our bodies and having them exposed. I’ve been on multiple teams before, and I know we’re always given options when it comes to uniforms, but I’ve never seen them unveil a cut that was so high — it was almost like a Brazilian cut.

When you're competing at this high level at the Olympic Games and you're jumping or sprinting, the last thing you want to think about exposing parts of your body you don’t want to expose. As a Black woman with the type of body that I have, a lot of times we're overly sexualized. A lot of red flags definitely were flying, but again, I also understood this wouldn't be the only option we'd have.

What does your wax routine look like when you’re in competition?

I consistently wax my underarms every three to four weeks because I'm always in a sports bra. In the nether regions, there are so many things that come to play, but I like to be clean and smooth, and it's helped me avoid ingrown hair.

Do you ever experience chafing when running? How do you deal with it?

I always run in full leggings because I have thicker thighs and they rub together — I know for a long time that it was frowned upon, but I proudly say mine rub. European Wax Center actually has products that are anti-chafing, which you can apply so your legs glide across each other.

What about your approach to makeup as a runner? How did you start wearing such bold looks?

I'm not going to lie: At first, I was very self-aware because none of the other girls on the line were wearing it. It started with just lip gloss and mascara, then it was lipstick. Finally, I just got to a place where I was getting great feedback from younger girls who told me it was so cool and glamorous, so I started feeling more comfortable.

What are some of your fave products?

I'm using all of the waterproof and sweat-proof products. I use liquid lipstick because I don’t like to worry about smudging when I’m drinking out of water bottles — I like the ones from Too Faced, Sephora Collection, and KVD Beauty.

I also like the ILIA blush, because it's pigmented and I can build it.

What’s your favorite way to style your hair while running?

I love the straight-back cornrow. That's just my thing, because I don't have to worry about anything sweating out or getting out of place. Plus, I can put ribbons through it, I can put dabs on my edges, or I can add colored hair into it.

I also love a half-up, half-down type of ponytail where it’s slicked up with a bun at the top.

What are some of your pre-race rituals?

I eat a full, hearty breakfast in the morning — usually a smoothie — then I'll get eggs and grits or oatmeal. I usually put on my lipstick after my warmup; that's the last thing.

What about the music you’re listening to while working out?

Tyla's album is so good. I mean, start to finish. Beyoncé's also always in rotation, especially the Renaissance album.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.