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The Empress of Nails: Florence Griffith Joyner

In the last 30 years, the evolution of nail art has gone from diamond encrusted hearts to 3-D flower art. The first sign of nail art appeared in 600 BC, where aristocrats wore gold and silver nail guards on their long nails to signify wealth; in the 15thcentury, Inca women painted eagles on their nails. The creativity of nail art found its way to the United States in the 1920, but the golden years of nail art could be found in the 1980s nail shops in the urban communities. In the 1990s nail shops your were bound to find nails covered in cheetah prints or tips of nails covered in real $20 dollar bills. The mainstream culture was rarely exposed to this kind of contemporary art, until the fastest woman of the world burst on the scene with speed and a flair for long, fly nails.


Florence Delorez Griffith-Joyner, also known as Flo Jo, was an American track and field athlete. Flo Jo set the world record for the fastest women in the 100- and 200-meter dash, her records has not been broken since she set them in 1988. She qualified for the 1980’s Olympics for the 100-meter dash, but appeared four years later, after the boycott of the 1980s ended. Flo Jo was known for bold track uniforms-a la Serena Williams- but above all, Joyner was known for her long, colorful, bold nails-with cutting-edge nail designs. The average length of Flo Jo’s nails were 4 inches long, but for the 1988 Olympic games she sported 6-inch nails.  

The nail art from her 1988 Olympics appearance in Seoul, South Korea were a mix of solid-colored nails painted in red, white, blue, and gold with her signature bling and  prints. The long, bold nails never held Flo Jo from being faster than her competitors or decreased her running time, but it did launch her into the coveted space of being a fashion icon in the sports world.


Storyteller, innovative thinker, and aspiring women's and family health advocate; Whitney Keitt is pursuing her passion of being an activist for change in her commuity. She graduated from Savannah State University with a Masters of Business Administration in December 2019. Whitney is pursuing her Master's of Public Administration and will graduate in December 2021. Growing up in Savannah, Whitney learned leadership skills and innovative thinking as a Girl Scout. She recognized her love of storytelling and creativity through her exposure to museums and theaters. Whitney's leadership skills, innovative thinking, and creative passion manifested into innovative professional positions. She has held positions as a senior tour guide at a historical site, social media strategist for her local farmers market, and project coordinator for an educational teaching program funded through the National Science Foundation.
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