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Nike is appealing to its consumer base of women who wear mens clothing through its newest spokesperson, Brittney Griner. Griner, the 22 year-old number one draft pick for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, will model menswear for the brand.

ESPN reports: “Griner’s deal is within this range; what makes it groundbreaking is the freedom. She will wear apparel branded as menswear, including the skateboarding line Nike SB, and she is allowed to pursue nontraditional marketing deals with outside companies.”

Wearing mens clothing is a natural fit for the 6’8″ basketball player, who is the first openly-gay athlete to sign with Nike. She says: “I used to do the whole baggy, hard-core, I’m-a-boy look. Then I went through a preppy phase. Now I have the athletic, bow-tie look. I found my style.”

ESPN writer Kate Fagan recognizes the significance of Nike and Griner’s decision, saying: “Androgynous models are coveted in high-end fashion, but the trend toward gender-neutral clothing has only just begun to reach the sports world, with NBA stars Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade blurring the lines in their tight jeans and fitted sweaters.”

Modeling mens clothes is a courageous gesture that may draw critics but Griner appears very comfortable in her own skin and with her sexuality as a “strong, black, lesbian woman.” She shares with ESPN that that wasn’t always the case and she endured a lot of pain hiding her sexuality at Baylor. Her father also made it known that he didn’t want to “raise a gay girl.”

The WNBA center is now out and proud, and tells Sports Illustrated “…just be who you are. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something, but, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”

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