Yesterday, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit spread hit newsstands as part of the In Her Words campaign. For the shoot, Raisman was tasked with choosing words or messages that resonated with her to write on her body. She wrote: "trust yourself," "fierce," "every voice matters," "abuse is never okay," "women do not have to be modest to be respected," and "survivor."
"It felt good to put the word survivor across my chest and not be ashamed," Raisman told Refinery29 during a Facebook Live. "Everyone is a survivor of something; we've all been through something traumatic or hard. I want to change the conversation where it shouldn't be scary for people to come forward — and it is its very hard to come forward about something you've been through thats hard."
Just weeks ago, Raisman read a moving impact statement at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, the disgraced USA Gymnastics coach convicted of sexual assault. Throughout the sentencing, Raisman was outspoken about the widespread abuse, the "army of survivors" who came forward, and the injustices she saw within the system. Her statement, and those of the hundreds of other survivors who came forward, sparked a discussion about sexual assault within the sports community — and the rest of the world.
Raisman said she wants everyone to feel equally empowered to own their stories and be understanding of others. "I encourage people to use their voices, and everyone else around them to support them, so when people do come forward we listen and we believe them," she said. "Nobody deserves to be abused, and nobody deserves to feel uncomfortable."
Today, she said her advice would be for other people to speak up when they sense something is wrong. "Trust yourself, trust your gut," she said. "If something doesn't feel right, it's important to ask questions and speak up. It's just important to remember that you have a voice and you deserve to be heard."
Watch the full interview below to hear what Raisman had to say about body positivity, self-care, and her new lingerie line with Aerie.
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