Yeah, those photos of Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman in Sports Illustrated pretty much slayed. She and all-around champ Simone Biles swapped their bedazzled leotards for bikinis to appear in the magazine’s Swimsuit issue. Raisman was a vision of poise and physical strength in her black two-piece.
“I loved the photo shoot. It was such an empowering feeling to be so confident and happy with the way I looked. I work so hard for the body that I have and believe that all women should embrace how beautiful they are, no matter their body type,” says Raisman.
The Massachusetts native won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the team competitions in 2012 and 2016. Plus, in 2016, she took home silver medals in the individual all-around and floor exercise competitions. She’s dating NFL tight end Colton Underwood and unsurprisingly, says happiness is her secret weapon when it comes to loving herself. “When I’m happy, it doesn’t matter what other people think. What matters is that you look at yourself in the mirror and are happy with who you are as a person. If you’re a kind person, that’s far more important than being a certain size or number on the scale,” she says.
Raisman in person is low-key: She does her own makeup, totes her own bags, and offers to take pictures with fans. She doesn’t let much bother her, especially any online trolls.
“I haven’t read my comments recently on social. I didn’t look at any comments after the SI photo was released because I’m just proud of my hard work. If I’m proud of how I look and feel confident, that’s all that matters. In general, if I see a comment that’s hurtful I try to brush it off — easier said than done, though! I’m a very sensitive person and sometimes will call my parents or boyfriend, and they always remind me that if I’m happy, a nice person, and have good intentions in my everyday life, then that’s all that matters. As much as I’d like to, I can’t please everyone all the time,” she says.
Her advice for those getting attacked online? Just be yourself, do right by others, and know your own worth.
“That’s all you can do. Be kind, and remember the people bullying you are often hurting and struggling, so don’t be mean back. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s always better to be the bigger person. Be extra kind to the people around you even if you don’t know them,” she says.
Raisman admits that she overthinks everything, which “drives me crazy! I’m also very sensitive.”
But that hasn’t stopped her from temporarily leaving the gym and shifting her focus to business endeavors. She’s not thinking about the next Olympics in Tokyo. “I’m taking a training break!” she says.
She has a line of socks (which this writer has, and they’re pretty rad), a balance beam landing pad, and plenty more stuff coming out. “I have a jewelry line called Heart-Full hands, a leotard line with GK Elite, and I’m creating a clothing line with Life Is Good and also just came out with my own emojis.”
And yes, for fans of the very emotional and passionate elder Raismans, there are “even some [emoji] of my parents in the stands watching me.”
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