Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said she gives no heed to critics of her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit photo shoot — it’s something she expected.
“I knew people were going to say that I wasn’t a good role model and all of this stuff,” Raisman, who posed topless in the magazine, told Motto. “I did the issue because I love my body. I can express myself in any way that I want. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to judge me. I think being a role model is about being a kind person.”
“It really made me realize women do not have to be modest in order to be respected,” Raisman added.
Raisman is often outspoken about body image and the need for young women to have confidence. She’s recently partnered with Playtex Sport to encourage women to continue participating in sports while on their periods. Raisman spoke about the need to support girls when they are going through puberty.
“Girls feel really insecure and awkward at that stage — your body starts to change,” she said. “Instead of feeling uncomfortable and not talking about it, I think it’s important to have this conversation.”
Raisman also tackles the issue of sexual assault and the need for girls to speak up when someone’s behavior makes them uncomfortable.
“It’s very hard for young women to speak up,” she said. “I think young girls need to understand that if something doesn’t feel right or they feel uncomfortable, then it’s probably wrong. And it’s OK to speak up.”
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