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Simone Biles loves competing in gymnastics, but she is not a fan of the the sport’s unreasonable beauty standards and body expectations.
The five-time World all-around champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist called out the constant scrutiny she gets about her looks on Instagram on Wednesday.
“In gymnastics, as in many other professions, there is a growing competition that has nothing to do with performance itself,” Biles, 22, wrote. “I’m talking about beauty. I don’t know why but others feel as though they can define your own beauty based on their standards.”
The 2020 Tokyo hopeful said that she tries to ignore the criticism she gets about her looks, but is over it.
“I’ve learned to put on a strong front and let most of it slide,” she said. “But I’d be lying if I told you that what people say about my arms, my legs, my body…of how I look like in a dress, leotard, bathing suit or even in casual pants hasn’t gotten me down at times.”
Biles, who shared the post as part of skincare brand SK-II’s #NOCOMPETITION campaign, said she’s done with “everything in life being turned into a competition.”
“I am standing up for myself and for everyone that has gone through the same,” she said. “Today, I say I am done competing vs. beauty standards and the toxic culture of trolling when others feel as though their expectations are not met…because nobody should tell you or I what beauty should or should not look like.”
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Biles has taken down her body shamers in the past, and opened up about getting bullied as a child for her muscular arms.
“People would say mean things at the time. They used to call me a ‘swoldier,’ which didn’t make me feel the best,” she said in 2018. “I wore sweaters or jackets all year long to cover my arms.”
Biles said her 2016 teammate Aly Raisman helped her work through lingering body image issues.
“Aly Raisman helped me a lot with my body-confidence issues and helped me learn to love how I look,” Biles said. “She’s taught me a lot along the way, but most of the time it’s just the same message: love yourself.”