Viral Gymnast Katelyn Ohashi Bares All For ESPN’s The Body Issue

Photo: Kyusung Gong/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images.
Katelyn Ohashi isn’t afraid to put it all out there. The 22-year-old gymnast has gotten real about problems within the elite gymnastics industry’s culture. She’s opened up about body shaming and prioritizing self care. And now, she’s laying it all out once again for ESPN’s Body Issue. 
For the photo shoot, she can be seen doing impressive jumps and dance moves in tasteful photographs that were shot nude. In the ESPN story, she opens up about body shaming, her disordered eating, and the intense pressure put on athletes. She tells the story of the injury that took her out of elite level competitions, and how she rediscovered her love for the sport on UCLA’s team
Advertisement
“I became an elite gymnast when I was 12 years old, and everything became less about me and what I wanted and more for everyone around me,” Ohashi tells ESPN. The Olympics was the ultimate goal, but it was never my goal. It was put in front of me because of my talent, and my coaches kept pushing me toward it…  I became miserable. My voice was so suppressed. I still loved the sport, but the joy was diminished. I believed the medals were worth so much more than I was.” 
View this post on Instagram

“a line of dots following a pattern but one stands out, it’s clearly an outlier that’s direction needs to reroute. alienated and put to the side in order to not be seen, studied through a screen, thinking that maybe if we can match a name to it, we’ll all suddenly become immune like any vaccine. experiencing anything that isn’t explained or doesn’t belong to the majority will make you alone, and anyone who wants to stay “normal” will hide in order to not be shown. the outlying dots were marked on my skin, to remind me that being different is no longer sin. these marks are the reminders of everyone fighting around. the ones that are no longer seen because they were cast down. the ones that aren’t lost just never wanted to be found. and the ones that just needed someone else to make a sound. multiple mediums where too many negative energies can surface. as if not commenting the hurtful message would somehow be doing a disservice. each time my skin sheds away making more room to grow. not to make room for anyone else but to let my own true colors show. proud of who i am and what my body reveals, no longer am i concerned about who it appeals. too thin, too fat, but it’s not anyone else’s job to decide all that. having a voice loud enough blocks everyone else out, but when there’s that lingering doubt every compliment received will go unnoticed like a drought. amour de soi is the only natural form of self love. once that’s reached, nothing will rise above. we weren’t meant to have it all, but make the best out of what we have every single day. i’m proud of my body and all its imperfections, that’s all i have to say.” ~ katelyn ohashi. @espn #espnbodyissue2019 photographer: @danascruggs 😍

A post shared by katelyn ohashi (@katelyn_ohashi) on

She details rude comments made about her body and her weight, and she says she used to vomit up her food, and would limit her daily food intake. “There were times I couldn't even get through a floor routine because I was so exhausted,” she reveals. “I would fall, and my coach would be like, "What's wrong with you?" I'm like, "All I've had today are raspberries." 
After getting injured at the age of 16, Ohashi says she felt broken, both mentally and physically. She says it took her a year to miss the sport. That’s when she got back involved with UCLA, where her team and her coach took a much healthier approach to training. It wasn’t only about how good she was or how hard she could push. She had nutritionists and trainers at her disposal. She effectively took control of her life.  Last January, she went viral with a floor routine, and she points out that one thing that stood out about it was that it was "joyful." She’s embracing the joy. 
“Doing the Body Issue is important because I'm able to take full ownership over my body and not allow anyone else to have power over how I feel about myself,” she says. “I feel really accepting of the things I used to be insecure about. I have gone through eating disorders and body shaming, and here I am today standing [laughs] naked in front of a camera doing this shoot for millions of people to see.”
Advertisement

More from Wellness

R29 Original Series