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The Schmooze

How Aly Raisman Beat Body Image Issues — And Got the Gold

It’s hard to believe that anybody could ever critique gymnast superstar Aly Raisman’s physique. But according to USA Today, the gold medal Olympics winner and her teammate Simone Biles were once made to feel self-conscious about their appearances.

“Gymnasts are supposed to look like this,” the Massachusetts native told the publication, stretching out her fingers, “like pencils.” She added that having a butt is considered “bad in gymnastics.”

“There was a time when both of us were told our body fat percentage was off,” Raisman said. “I was a lot more self-concious about it when I was younger. It’s something we’ve both worked hard on so it didn’t hold us back.”

Ironically, the two reflected to USA Today, it’s their physiques — once seen as potential obstacles to success — that have led them to become the world’s best gymnasts. Both petite and weighing in at the low 100s, they use their frames — slightly larger than their fellow athletes — to achieve maximum leverage when they perform certain moves, such as tumbling.

Raisman scored one gold medal at the Rio Olympics, and two before at the London Olympics. Biles won four gold medals in Rio.

The two women are now touring the country and bringing their message of self-love, empowerment and health to kids everywhere. At a recent even in New York, where Biles and Raisman taught pre-teens how to dance, one girl asked how she could become a gymnast like them.

Meet & greet yesterday. Baby fans make me happy ✨

A photo posted by Alexandra Raisman (@alyraisman) on

“Stay active, eat healthy, work hard, and don’t listen to the people who don’t believe in you,” Raisman said.

Amen.

Contact solomon@forward.com or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon

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