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- American alpine skier
Lindsey Vonn opens up about her struggle with body image and her journey to self-love
LINDSEY VONN: When I won the Olympics, I started to do a lot more press and going to red carpet events and noticing that I really didn't look like anyone else I was around. And I was quite a bit heavier. And it really messed with my mind for a long time.
KERRY JUSTICH: Today, I'm chatting with the amazing Lindsey Vonn, a former Olympic skier turned businesswoman and author, all about her new memoir, "Rise," and her journey with body image. Lindsey, when you think back to your childhood, when you first started getting on skis, what role did that play in your relationship with your body? And how did you build yourself into this athlete? What was that process like?
LINDSEY VONN: Well, you know, when I was a kid, I really didn't realize what role my body played in my success on the slopes. Most people assume that Olympic athletes are just naturally so-- you know, they're ripped, and it's, like, so easy for them. And it's definitely not the case for me. You know, I spent so much time trying to be in the best shape possible. And it would take me twice as long as everyone else to be at the same place.
I kind of became a gym rat. And it helped my career in so many ways. But, you know, again, I didn't really realize, you know, the way I looked necessarily. I just used my body as a tool to succeed. And in my skiing, I thrived on people saying negative things about me, because it always pushed me.
But then, when I became more well-known, that's when I started to really question the way I look. And, you know, that's when my self-confidence off the slopes plummeted. There is a certain level of judgment that goes into women who are athletes. And it's like no one judges men in the same way.
KERRY JUSTICH: What went into your decision to also speak out about that?
LINDSEY VONN: It just got to the point where I was so frustrated with the judgment. Social media is all filters. And it's all fake. And I just wanted to be authentically myself. And, you know, I have a foundation where I try to inspire and empower young girls. And that's another reason why I spoke out about it, because, you know, I want to be an example of authenticity to those kids.
KERRY JUSTICH: Specifically, in your new memoir, "Rise," you also talk about pushing the boundaries, forcing yourself to your limit. Can you explain a few of those moments and what toll that takes not only on your body but also, you know, mentally and emotionally as well?
LINDSEY VONN: I think a lot of times in my career, I didn't realize I'd pushed myself too far until it was already too late. Since my first major surgery in 2013, I didn't have a 12-month period where I didn't have surgery or a major injury until I retired. And by the end, I was like, OK, it's time to say enough is enough. I definitely think it made me a stronger person.
KERRY JUSTICH: When you talk about these times when you go through these injuries, you know, your body is fighting against you. You're fighting against your body. When you're looking to recover, how helpful is it to really own that vulnerability and make sure that you're not resentful of your body?
LINDSEY VONN: There's always a moment after I get injured where I'm really emotional and I'm crying. But I never was resentful, because I always learned something from it. People always try to think that athletes are these super-humans that don't have weakness, but we do. And we are human, and we do fall apart. And I think it's how we put ourselves back together that's the real hero in us. We don't stay down. We always get back up.