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In Her Shoes: How Pat Summitt and Flo Jo ascended to cultural-icon status (USA)

In celebration of Women’s History Month, espnW presents “In Her Shoes,” a series of essays and features highlighting women, their journeys and their perspectives on sports.

As girls, we are always looking. Scanning the cultural landscape for women who model our desires, spoken and not. Women who shine so brightly they can’t be missed, their light a beacon of what’s possible, evidence that the lives we long for can happen.

As a teen in the 1980s, the women who lit my path could not have been more different, at least on the outside. Florence Griffith Joyner was Beyonce before Beyonce — sparkling, stunning excellence that made everyone around her seem as dynamic as driftwood. Which is no doubt why Beyonce herself chose to dress as Flo Jo for Halloween in 2018, icon celebrating icon, game recognizing game.

A track and field comet, the fastest woman of all time, Flo Jo was not just the best, but the boldest, confirmation you could embrace exactly who you were; could emphasize your difference, your peculiarity, your brashness, your confidence, that you didn’t have to “behave” in all the ways female athletes were expected to.



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