Katelyn Ohashi is a four-time member of USA Gymnastics’ Junior National Team. After competing with a fractured back and two torn shoulders, she decided to stop performing at the elite level, and found joy in college gymnastics at The University of California, Los Angeles. Last month, she graduated from UCLA with a major in gender studies. She writes poetry on body shaming and empowerment, and has participated in speaking opportunities and volunteering with Project Heal, a non-profit focused on recovery from eating disorders. She recently won an ESPY award, and was nominated for a Teen Choice Award. Here's what makes her feel powerful...
I feel most powerful when…
I take ownership over my own life and am in control of the things I have control over. For instance, I feel like I took a lot of control over my life going into my sophomore year of college. Just figuring out what I wanted to do. So, I started my blog, and started getting interested in things that I really enjoy, such as writing and TED Talks.
What does power mean to you?
I think power means to be heard and to have a voice. To be able to speak your own mind is having power. But not just speaking — being listened to.
What do you do when you feel powerless?
I typically write a lot when I feel powerless. That helps me get all of my emotions out, and helps me figure out how to solve my own problems and go from there.
What's your power anthem?
Who's your power icon?
I don’t have one. Icon is a really powerful word. And I think looking up to people is cool. For me, looking up to people is really getting inspired by someone... it’s very powerful. But I don’t have someone that I try to follow or that’s really an icon.
I don’t think you should follow anyone’s path, because everyone is put out there for different reasons. And we have our own uniqueness that we’re supposed to follow. So I think it’s cool to get inspiration from people, but never to try to be another person. I just try to stay true to myself as much as possible, and do the things that I’m passionate about.
What do you wear when you want to feel powerful?
I have a pretty unique style. I like standing out. I usually wear something that embraces and expresses my true self.
Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.