If being one of the most decorated and instantly-recognizable athletes in the history of professional sports affects Megan Rapinoe in ways beyond her jam-packed schedule, you'd never know it. In fact, it's the opposite. Even just a few minutes of face time with Rapinoe makes it pretty clear: This is a woman whose personal qualities shaped her career—creative play style and deadly kicks included—rather than the other way around. Her directness and gumption are captain's qualities, be it on an in-office team or an Olympic one. Her commitment and drive are the marks of a true athlete. And her signature approach to style—she has an irreverent, boundary-shattering attitude and eye for aesthetics—would make her either a hometown hero or a global one. As it turns out, Rapinoe became both.
When Megan Rapinoe first pops up on Zoom, with a close crop of hair (a soft gold that complements her cheery yellow sweater vest), she looks deeply relaxed. She embodies the sort of loose-limbed confidence that comes with comfort in who you are, even if you had to fight to get there. And on the day of our Zoom Date, Rapinoe has something of a twofold mission: Talk about her latest role representing Shiseido in a vibrant new campaign for its ULTIMUNE Power Infusing Concentrate ($100), and explain her own personal beauty philosophies—and her journey to developing them in the first place.
Rapinoe's star rose in tandem with a long-overdue shift towards actual representation, inclusion, and diversity, and her roster of brand deals speak to what the people really want in a beauty role model: someone who dares to ignore the restrictive box of ideals past in favor of her own—and absolutely revels in it.
We're just two weeks in, but how's your 2022 so far? Are you a resolutions person at all?
"I honestly don't even know when 2022 happened. I want to petition to not start the new year until February or take all of December off. It just feels like one year runs into the next so quickly, and there's no time. But it's going well, it's nice to be back in Seattle. I'm totally not a resolutions person. I mean, I definitely want to do things a little differently. I just find that any time I'm like, 'You're doing this!' I immediately don't do any of it.
"I was listening to something the other day that said the whole 'new year, new me' thing is just inherently self-hate because what was wrong with the old you that did a whole year, that has done a whole life, that's trying to just do their best, particularly in a pandemic? Also, you have to go from Monday 'old you' to Tuesday 'new you.' And you're just going to immediately not drink, not eat this, workout 12 times a day? It sets us up to feel bad about ourselves. I was like, 'Oh, that's a really amazing way to look at it.' So self-love and giving ourselves time and energy to do things, I feel like, is better."
That's a really good point and does seem a lot healthier. Speaking of which, to reframe it, is there anything you're trying to leave in 2021?
"I'm trying to build the muscle of purposeful rest and disconnection from our phones. Because so much of our life is online, it's hard—you can't just put your phone down and go sit on the couch, and think, 'Oh my god I'm relaxed, I lit a candle!' It just doesn't work like that. So, I've had to build that muscle, and I don't know exactly how to do it, but I think part of it is giving yourself permission to rest.
"For [my wife] Sue and I, giving each other that permission to rest is important. I put my phone down for an hour and maybe go outside or sit and stretch. You start to sort of find ways to build that muscle, and I think [giving permission to rest] to other people around you is important as well. Like my agent or a woman who works with me or something—we all help give each other rest. I think—especially during the pandemic—you can get caught in the hamster wheel. We're all trying to build that muscle to just disconnect and listen to your body more."
We're all trying to build that muscle to just disconnect and listen to your body more.
Like a form of self-care, giving yourself that grace. With your schedule so slammed, what does self-care, in general, look like for you these days?
"It's definitely a learning process. I never thought about self-care a ton before the last three years or so. Some of the things that I find are most helpful for my self-care, we can't really do now. Going to dinner or seeing friends... stuff like that. So, there are some purposeful practices that I do. I love taking baths. It's a tactile way to be like, 'Hey, mental energy, physical energy, emotional energy, let's just get in this water and sit here for a second.'
"I try to stretch before going to bed—that puts me in a little bit of a better place. My skincare routine, obviously, is a big one. For me, I look in the mirror every day, and I try to talk to myself a different way. Instead of looking in the mirror and thinking, 'Okay, this needs to go, that needs to go,' I think 'How do I actually feel?' Living with your skin in that way is important.
"For me, self-expression in fashion, outfits, my hair (or whatever!) is also a way that I do self-care. I just have this energy in me that makes me need to express myself. So, doing those things helps with that. And obviously, I'm really lucky. Sometimes, I just take things for granted and don't realize how much self-care I get from my job of going and working out every day, being outside every day. Exercise, in a big way, takes care of that physical side. And then, there's the mental, emotional side of taking care of things and making sure I'm resting. That is something I want to focus on."
It sounds like you've got self-analysis down. You seem like someone who really, really knows yourself.
"I try. I try not to take myself too seriously, and call it for what it is. It's kind of like, 'Your face is in your fucking phone all the time! That's why your neck hurts! That's why you can't shut off!' I think it's self-honesty, but also a lot of grace.
"Especially during these last couple of years, we're all just trying to do the best that we can. I'm just trying to do cool shit, build something great, and enjoy it. You know, I'm not a religious person, I don't think there's an afterlife. So, I'm like, 'this is your life, you get one life.' And I think we've just been told so many things, especially as women, as a gay person, or even as an athlete. It's like a box. They're like, 'Hey, can you fit into this?' And everyone knows you can't. It's hard to ditch that, it's hard to say, 'No, I just feel beautiful being me.' So, I'm trying to really be honest. Thinking, 'okay, I am feeling a little pressure at this point, why?' and then trying to just build a different paradigm.
You mentioned that your skincare routine is a big part of your self-care. Now you have this incredible Shiseido partnership, too. What's your routine right now?
"I love my skincare routine. It's one of these little habits that you do every day, and you really see the effects of it. I usually do my skincare in the middle of the day because I wake up, do my morning thing, go work out, and then after my workout is when I'm showering. I've been using Shiseido Sunscreen ($40)—and I'm not plugging the brand here—literally for 15 years. It's by far, not even a question, the best. So, I've been using that for 100 years. And that's obviously the foundation... sunscreen is everything.
"With that in mind, though, you gotta get it all off. So, I use a really good face wash, and then a beta enzyme a couple of times a week—just because I'm wearing so much sunscreen all the time even when it's cloudy outside. Obviously, a toner as well. I use a brand called Biologique Recherche that I love. The Shiseido Ultimune Serum ($110) is just second to none. I love it. It's thick and lush without feeling creamy or like 'Oh my gosh, I have all this stuff on my face.' It feels so thick, but it sits on your face nicely.
"And then I switch up my moisturizers depending on where I am. I put it everywhere. In the summer, something a little bit lighter—just because the season calls for that. And then the Shiseido Eye Cream ($64) all the time, Aquaphor all on my lips and hands all the time—that's a big one. Also, a body oil, body butter, or something hydrating.
I just have this energy in me that makes me need to express myself.
As a beauty ambassador now, looking back, has your definition of "beauty" evolved over time?
"The definition has completely changed over my life. Very quickly after coming out and getting into my mid-20s, it was really obvious to me that none of this was made for 99.9% of people. Well, no, it was not made, really, for anyone outside of cis, male, white, heteronormative, patriarchal, capitalist society to get wild with it [LAUGHS].
"I could bang my head against the wall for my entire life, but I'm just never gonna fit into that [beauty standard]. I think so many people, even people who you may think fit into it, really don't. It's so limited. So, looking at beauty, for me, has been what makes me feel cool. I certainly want to be cool, want to look beautiful, and want to have style, but I tried to set those definitions for myself. What makes something beautiful, what makes something stylish? It's when the person rocks up, shoulders back, and they have this glow. They could be wearing a plastic bag, and you're like, 'that's just dope.' When people make it their own, take ownership, I think that's when it really shines. So that's what I love about this campaign, it's all about beauty and power from within.
"The beauty industry is so influential and so big in our world, and I think it could do so much more (and could do so much better) for people and their mental health and how they feel about themselves. Ultimately, that's beauty. Shiseido is really committed to that and puts in a lot of effort. And choosing to partner with me, I think, really puts the money where the mouth is. It's not saying, 'Here, this is how you become beautiful.' But rather, 'These are the questions to ask yourself.' You get to define the answers and define what beauty looks like for you."
At work, is there anything that never leaves your soccer bag?
"Always sunscreen. I have like 20,000 different sunscreens everywhere. It's in every little bag, every little backpack, and every little soccer bag. And all of my lockers, everywhere—there's always lots of sunscreen. A really good face wash is always with me as well. And then a great—I use Aquaphor most of the time—all-purpose ointment. I can use it for my hands and cuticles, for noses in colder weather, whatever.
"Also, a really good serum. I think that's a key. I love the Shiseido Ultimune one. Obviously, I have this great partnership with Shiseido, but the products are amazing. For me, my skincare is a constant battle of destruction and restoration. Being outside with sunscreen, doing grunty sporty things, and then trying to balance against that."
I certainly want to be cool, want to look beautiful, and want to have style, but I tried to set those definitions for myself.
Say you have a day free of commitments, all to yourself—a Megan Day. What are you doing?
"Well, I hope I have just come back to the west coast from the east coast, which means I'm waking up early, which I love. So it's like 6:30, 7, I'm kind of strolling out of bed, making coffee. We have a really pretty view and a nice little balcony, so I like to go out there and just get some fresh air in the morning. Just connecting with a little breath out there. I also wish I could have 20 cups of coffee—I really can only have one otherwise it gets... a lot. [LAUGHS] So I try to make that coffee last, maybe stretch it into a cup and a half.
"A Mexican breakfast—any kind of breakfast tacos situation—is just completely unrivaled. And then I would love to go shopping, into a small boutique and touch things and feel things. I do online shopping obviously, but I don't really love it. I like to go in and feel things.
"Then, maybe a little champagne at lunch with some oysters. We have beautiful places here on the water to do a little dining out. My hobbies are basically, like, going to dinner [LAUGHS]. I think traveling so much and playing on sports teams, you sometimes don't get to choose who you hang out with. You just get put on the team. Hopefully, you have a few really good connections, but actually getting to choose who you hang out with is always so nice. So yeah, just shopping around, coming back, chilling, putting on a wild outfit that just struck at the moment, and I ask Sue like, 'Is this cute?' And she's like, 'I don't even know, but you seem really happy in it.' Having a couple of bottles of really good wine and cracking up over dinner, and then an unnecessary nightcap (that you never need but you always get). It's just fun."