Aly Raisman, our favorite Jewish (two-time!) Olympic gymnast, recently sat down with model Chrissy Teigen and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day to talk about body image and body positivity. Raisman is featured for the latest issue in this ultra racy photo shoot. While Raisman seems super confident now (especially in those sultry backside shots, you go girl!), she opened up about how that wasn’t always the case.
Raisman, 22, told SI and Teigen that this photo shoot was monumental for her, because she hasn’t always loved the way her body looks:
“[You] surprise yourself how comfortable you are when you’re shooting. It was one of my favorite days of my life — I’m not just saying that — because I felt so confident, so strong, so feminine, and it’s an incredible feeling, because I feel like a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it.
Doing the shoot, I was like, ‘This is the day where I’m not gonna worry; I’m not gonna be insecure. I’m gonna have fun.’ And it was seriously one of the best days of my life.”
Confident, comfortable, beautiful. This is Aly Raisman! pic.twitter.com/WvGxd2ILAr
— SI Swimsuit (@SI_Swimsuit) February 17, 2017
The six-time Olympic medalist says she still has insecurities, just like everyone else:
“It’s so empowering to be out there and just, you have insecurities just like everyone else, your body’s not perfect, but you feel confident and beautiful.
I used to be so insecure, I thought my arms were too muscular, but now I’m growing to like them.”
— SI Swimsuit (@SI_Swimsuit) February 15, 2017
Day, who chose size and body diversity as the theme for the issue, explains how Raisman talking about her own body image issues helps others deal with their own, because no one is perfect:
“This is the point. Everyone thinks that because you’re an elite athlete, because you’re an enormous celebrity, superstar model, that your world is perfect, and that you think everything about yourself is perfect.
It doesn’t matter if you look like you, or you, or me, we all have our issues, and the world should know that. We should love everything that we’re given.”
In an Instagram video Raisman posted as part of SI Swimsuit’s partnership with the @WomenIRL Instagram and Health.com, she explained that modeling helps her feel more beautiful, because it’s celebrating her uniqueness. And it helps her strike back against the boys who teased her when she was younger!
“I model because it makes me feel happy, strong, feminine and beautiful. I think it’s such an empowering feeling to be at a photoshoot and to know that you’re not perfect and that you have insecurities just like everyone else but you’re still having so much fun because you know you’re unique and beautiful in your own way.
I also model because, when I was younger, I used to get made fun of by the boys in my class. They told me that I was too strong, that I looked manly and that I was anorexic and looked like I was on steroids. Of course that really bothered me and I used to hate the way that I looked. Which, looking back, it makes me feel really sad but that’s why I’m so proud to be in the SI Swim 2017 issue. Because, at 22 years old, I feel strong and beautiful in my own way. There is no perfect body type.”
For girls and women everywhere, this is a necessary conversation. Body image issues and insecurities pervade media outlets everywhere–start at a young age, as young as age 3 according to a recent study. That’s right: our unrealistic expectations for ourselves are so ingrained that toddlers start to feel them. This means we need to promote body positivity and talk about that while no body is “perfect”, every body is beautiful.
Check out her entire video below:
“I model….” with @womenirl @mj_day @si_swimsuit …. The video got cut off, at the end I say THERE IS NO PERFECT BODY TYPE IT IS 2017. Let’s all take this opportunity to support one another and teach the younger generation to grow up feeling strong, powerful, beautiful, loving, caring, confident to believe that they can be ANYTHING they set their minds too. All women are beautiful and we all deserve (men & women) to grow up to believe that we can do anything we dream of. Let’s keep that same mindset we had as a little kid. There was no dream that was too big, right?