A trailblazer beyond his years, Dennis Rodman has garmented himself in pieces that wouldn't surge in popularity for decades. The NBA star was ridiculed by the media for his eccentric outfits and gender-bending style, and was an outcast from his teammates and family. Although Rodman has struggled with alcohol addiction and has been arrested multiple times since his basketball career, his fashion sense was beyond his years. Media outlets that once criticized Rodman now praise him for being a revolutionary, and should be recognized for the effect he had on society's view on masculinity.
Rodman grew up a shy, isolated child. Although he had dreams of pursuing a career in athletics, he was unable to make his high school basketball team each time he tried out. Rodman was not known for being particularly athletic, and his 5'6 stature blocked him from pursuing his ambitions further. After graduating high school, Rodman worked as an overnight janitor at the Dallas Forth Worth International Airport. During this time he went through a life-changing growth spurt, jumping from 5'11 to 6'7. Although this bodily change helped him rekindle his love for basketball, it only made him feel more disconnected from society because of his incredible height.
A family friend tipped off a local college basketball recruiter, and from there, Rodman was able to start his career. He began at Cooke County College, before flunking out due to academic performance. He transferred to Southern Oklahoma State University, where he became a three-time NAIA All-Star. His potential caught the Detroit Pistons' attention, and he began playing with them in 1986. Although Rodman was an extremely successful player, helping win five different NBA championships, he was surrounded by controversy.
The basketball star was known for his insubordination, not only against his coaches, but the league as a whole. He was suspended for over 30 games during his entire career. Rodman was specifically under fire after he kicked a cameraman in the groin after tripping on his legs mid game, which earned Rodman an 11 game suspension and 200,000 dollar fine. What further supported society's mixed views on Rodman was his unprecedented sense of style, cementing him as one of the most controversial figures in sports history.
Dennis Rodman stunned audiences when he showed up to the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards in a glittery cropped tank. The outfit, paired with his many tattoos and piercings, was extremely unconventional for the time.
Not only was Rodman in an industry that propagated toxic masculinity, but was living during a time where gay and effeminate men were specifically terrorized because of the AIDS epidemic. Rodman sporting pink hair, belly button piercings, and black nail polish had fans speculating over his sexuality, despite him being in a relationship with Carmen Electra.
Dennis Rodman managed to pull off one of the biggest publicity stunts in history, by dressing himself in a custom wedding gown to promote his memoir. The 6'7 baller paired the $10,000 gown with heels, making him a sight to see as he showed up to Rockefeller Center in a horse-drawn carraige. His face was painted with bridal makeup as well, going into full drag to make a statement for "Bad as I Wanna Be", his aptly titled autobiography. Rodman did so in order to "marry himself" after his sexuality was questioned by the masses.
One of Dennis Rodman's most iconic features was his decorated buzzcut, which appeared in many different iterations through his career. Rodman was known for frequently rocking a bleached head, painted in various colors and patterns. During his first appearance as a player for the Chicago Bulls, he rocked the logo on the back of his head (top left), showing his pride for his new team.
Dennis Rodman also represented his alliance towards those afflicted with AIDS by painting a red ribbon on his head before a game with the Bulls (middle left). Although never a survivor of the disease himself, he was one of the celebrities noted for treating patients the same after them being diagnosed, due to there being misinformation spread about AIDS. When asked about guarding Magic Johnson, who was suffering from the disease during his NBA career, Rodman stated, "I couldn't care less if the guy I'm guarding has HIV. I'm going to slam him anyways."
Although Dennis Rodman is surrounded by controversy and confusion, he can be described as a fashion revolutionary who remained true to himself despite his challenges. He's more than an NBA player or all-star rebounder, he's a United States ambassador, author, pro wrestler, and much more. Dennis Rodman has been a style icon since the 90s due to distinct and unique style, he is not afraid to be feminine or experiment with style.