Today we want to celebrate the late Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith-Joyner.
Joyner was a track star who became a legend at the 1988 Olympics when she set world records for the 100m and 200m races. We remember her athletic prowess, signature style and iconic nails that are still inspiring generations decades later.
When you look at today’s nail trends, like the curved, acrylic sets we see on New York rapper Maliibu Miitch and influencer Choyce Brown, we can’t help but think of Flo Jo and her fly style.
When Griffith-Joyner was a young girl, she was fascinated by fashion and would sew clothing for her dolls. Her passion for beauty came when she was in high school and she worked in a nail salon part time while prepping for the 1988 Olympics.
For the Games she made history during (she became the first Black woman to win four medals at a single Game), Griffith-Joyner gave herself a special set—bedazzled red, white and blue nails to represent Team USA—with two gold nails, symbolizing her hope of bringing home the gold. She left the Seoul Games with 3 gold medals and one silver.
Contrary to popular belief, Griffith-Joyner sometimes opted to wear her natural nails, which were also lengthy. In a 1995 interview with Charlie Rose, she revealed she grew her nails out. “These are my very decorated nails that I’ve been growing for a while,” she said. “This is about a year’s worth of growth,” she noted, pointing to them. “I don’t know, I’ve just always been attracted to having long nails and I wanted to decorate them.”
Flo-Jo was, and is, a legendary figure for more reasons than one. We are still in awe of her excellence on the track, as well as her authentic beauty techniques. Keep scrolling to check out our homage to her ultra glam nails.
Griffith-Joyner left the 1988 Seoul Games with three gold medals and one silver one. She decorated one nail on each hand to decorate the type of medal she was after—gold.
Focused and Forever Fly
The record-setting icon also participated in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Her left hand featured shorter nails with single colors on each one, while the right had longer, curved nails with elaborate designs.
One year after her big win in South Korea, Griffith-Joyner posed on the track with primarily soft pink nails and multicolored index pinky nails.
You Glow, Girl!
The starlet wore another red, white and blue, rhinestone-accented set at the 1991 Sports Festival.
This orange and blue set was so fresh that Beyoncé recreated it for her 2018 Halloween costume.
Intricate Works of Art
Flo-Jo’s nails were wearable art at a 1995 art exhibit at New York City’s Guggenheim Museum.
Flawless in Fuschia
The athlete opted for a square tip look for this late 80s home portrait.
Flo-Jo was also a skilled designer and was tapped to craft uniforms for the Indiana Pacers’ uniforms in the early 90s. In this shot, she’s measuring player George McCloud while donning red-orange nails.