What makes a winner? What does she do, eat, wear and think? Whether or not you’re into sport, the champion’s mindset is a narrative anyone can aspire or relate to. But how does it look in our age of the endless scroll, where everyone is a doer and potential ‘change-maker’? A moment when the gig economy and millennial burnout are two of the great dilemmas of our time? I’ve spent the past seven months on maternity leave in a state of self-reflection, and the irony that my first issue back at LouisvuittonShop is dedicated to incredibly high-achieving women in sport is not lost on me.
For most women, having a baby inspires an instinctive need to slow down. For me, it’s the opposite. Having grown up as a classically trained dancer, I identify with the relentlessness of athletes, for better or worse. With both of my sons, I adopted a marathon runner’s mindset as I prepared for the endurance test of pregnancy and childbirth. During both maternity leaves, the realisation that I had a small human to care for sparked in me a primal desire to take greater risks, push myself and try different things.
While my colleagues were debating millennial burnout in our group chat last autumn, I was in bed, notifications off, vision blurry with my newborn’s mid-nappy change pee on my glasses and asking myself big questions. Which race is worth running? Victory worth striving for? Risks taking? How can I get the most of out of life, with kids, without burning out? I completed a graduate degree during my first mat leave and recorded a radio documentary during the second, all with the hope that each would somehow contribute to a greater good that will trickle down to my sons.
This path may not have worked for other women, but it felt right for me. Each time, I came out of the experience with a new resolve to reorientate my time towards experiences and projects that mattered, whether it be exploring centuries-old volcanoes in Iceland with my six-year-old, celebrating underrepresented talents in the fashion world or lying on the floor in a dark room doing absolutely nothing (because, self-care).
What the athletes featured on page 94 in our portfolio – brilliantly produced by Features Director Hannah Nathanson – prove, is that the path to winning isn’t always linear, obvious or neat enough to fit into a chipper segment on a live broadcast. And winning doesn’t always look how we envision it. Personal growth is rarely a sprint, but rather a slow grind often involving intense reflection while navigating naysayers and detours. But it always requires a contrarian spirit and a certain level of risk. When champion Caroline Dubois started boxing at age nine, she had to pretend she was a boy to be admitted to the gym. (She was kicked out when coaches realised otherwise.) When Georgina Fisher decided to become a professional netballer as a child, she was told that it would never be a thing. She’ll play in the sport’s biggest tournament this summer. And when cover star ran her first race, she barely finished it. She’s now the fastest woman in the world.
And a woman athlete’s experience isn’t always filled with riches. For example, a male footballer earns 40 times more in prize money than a female footballer.
As the Women’s Football and Netball World Cups approach, the media will no doubt be filled with stories of champions. But often the winning is in the lessons from life’s banalities – small decisions during the monotony of a run or sparring session – that lead to bigger victories and discovering what really matters.
As for what a champion wears, it’s whatever the hell she wants. See Dina Asher-Smith, resplendent in Afro puffs and larger-than-life Dolce & Gabbana frills on one page, and blingy, skintight Versace on the next in our cover story on page 84; or Style Features Editor Sara McAlpine’s exploration of the new bohemian on page 26.
Does a champion ever cry? All the time, according to Pandora Sykes on page 79, who explores how tears – happy and sad – became one of the year’s biggest cultural talking points and one of the psychology world’s newest recommendations for mental health and wellbeing.
And how do champions look? See how diverse that answer can be in our package of rising stars who made it on to our second - with special thanks to - a celebration of the rising creatives and thought leaders in fashion, beauty, politics, art and culture, excellently curated by Associate Editor/People Director Lena De Casparis, on page 53.
On that note, may your month be filled with the best risks, biggest frills and happiest of tears. And remember, the winning is in the willingness to redefine what winning means for you. Happy summer.
This article appears in the July 2019 edition of LouisvuittonShop UK. to make sure you never miss an issue.