Olympic great Aly Raisman has returned to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, and this time, she brought along a message.
The 23-year-old, who led the U.S. gymnastics team to gold medals in 2012 and 2016, posed with inspiring words scrawled on her body, such as “survivor” across her chest, “live 4 you” and “every voice matters” down one arm, and “fierce” on the other. “Women do not have to be modest to be respected” ran down one side of her body. There was no swimsuit, no clothing at all, just those words, which Raisman — not the photographer or stylists — chose, as did all the women featured in the what the magazine called its “In Her Own Words” project.
Raisman has been showing her strength beyond the physical, which audiences saw on display in London and Rio de Janeiro. In November, she revealed on 60 Minutes that she was one of the more than 265 people who had been sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the disgraced former doctor for the USA gymnastics team who’s been convicted of molesting athletes. Then, Raisman was one of around 100 victims who addressed Nassar in the courtroom as he was sentenced in January.
When it was her turn to speak — she was the 73rd victim to address Nassar — Raisman did not mince words. She was, well, fierce.
“Larry, you do realize that this group of women you heartlessly abused over a long period of time are now a force. And you are nothing,” Raisman said, as she faced her abuser. “The tables have turned Larry. We are here. We have our voices. And we are not going anywhere.”
In the wake of the Nassar scandal, Raisman also has called out the USA Gymnastics culture that enabled Nassar to continue abusing for decades.
She explained to Sports Illustrated some of why she chose the words that she did.
“I would like to remind everyone that being a survivor is nothing to be ashamed of, and going through a hard time does not define you,” she told the magazine. “I hope that we can one day get to a point where everyone realizes that women do not have to be modest to be respected. We are free to draw confidence and happiness in our own way, and it is never for someone else to choose for us or to even judge us for that matter. For me, ‘In Her Own Words’ serves as a reminder that we are all humans, we are all battling something, and it is OK to not be OK. We are not alone and we need each other.”
Raisman, who wore several different swimsuits in the 2017 edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, was grateful to be included again.
“It’s hard to put into words how special it is to be able to be a part of something like this,” Raisman said in an online video that accompanied her photos, “and the fact that Sports Illustrated is allowing us to share a different side of us that people don’t normally see, I think, is really, really incredible, and it’s even more special with this movement that we have with so many incredible stories and so many survivors coming forward.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Meet Maame Biney, the first black woman to compete as a U.S. Olympic speed skater
- Mirai Nagasu just landed a triple axel at the Olympics. Here’s how she did it.
- What 11 Olympians do in the morning to start their days off right
- What 11 Olympians packed to make PyeongChang feel a little more like home
- This biathlete casually learned how to speak Korean before heading to the Olympics