Not afraid to be who she is. Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman shared a beautiful, unretouched bikini photo on Instagram on March 20 — and accompanied the image with a powerful message about bullying and body image.
“Growing up, I trained almost every day because I loved gymnastics so much,” the 25-year-old began her lengthy caption. “It was my favorite thing in the world. I love being active, so I was always excited to try new sports. I enjoyed playing sports with the kids in my class, but I soon realized some of the boys didn’t enjoy playing with me.”
Unfortunately, the brunette beauty was on the receiving end of cruel treatment by her peers as a child. “When I was in fifth grade, a few boys in my class told me my muscles were gross and I looked like I was on steroids,” she explained. “They began running around the playground calling me ‘roids.’ I walked away with my head down, fighting back tears. It crushed me. I felt so self-conscious; I wanted to hide. I remember this vividly because words are powerful.”
The Massachusetts native also recalled an incident in middle school where boys called her muscular figure “disgusting” — and that she could even remember what she wore the day it happened.
Clearly, those childhood experiences are still vivid for her. “Although fifth and seventh grade were a long time ago, those moments stayed with me for years. I wish they hadn’t,” Aly continued. “I didn’t wear tank tops again for a very, very long time. Sadly, I think most people experience bullying at some point in their lives.”
At the end of the day, the athlete hoped her message would inspire others to treat people with dignity. “I wanted to write this post to remind you all to be kind to one another and remember your words are powerful,” she concluded her caption. “We live in such a judgmental world and I hope that changes. I also hope we can work together to educate young boys and girls about the damage of body-shaming and the impact it has on body dysmorphia.”
So glad you shared with us, girl.