McKayla Maroney is standing up to her haters this week after rumors spread that the 20-year-old Olympic gymnast cosmetically altered her appearance.
Now retired, Maroney was a member of the U.S. women's gymnastics team dubbed the "Fierce Five" at the 2012 London Games. That year, at just 16, she took home the team gold and placed silver in the vault event.
But even as a decorated athlete, she's not exempt from harsh internet speculation about her appearance, sparked by a recent video of her at the Olympic Trials. Maroney took to Instagram to set the record straight and remind us all what it takes to be a real role model.
"If I can promise you one thing, it's that I will never stop changing. Life is all about growing, evolving, and becoming more and more yourself, and these last couple years I've done nothing but that!" she captioned the photo.
"A real role model is someone who has the courage to be exactly who they are no matter what anyone else thinks.. and if I can inspire one person to live like that, then I've done my job on this planet. #KeepSmiling," she wrote.
In an interview with Seventeen magazine, Maroney talked about how tough it is to grow up in the spotlight, citing natural aging and a new interest in makeup as reasons for her grown-up look.
More Olympics videos
Russian officials admit to mass sports doping, says it’s ‘institutional conspiracy’
More than 1,000 Russian athletes in Olympic doping scandal, new report says
Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin: ‘My goal is to fall in love with the sport again’
Ryan Lochte won’t pay $20K fine to drop Brazil’s charges, report says
"Your face changes, you get older, your face fills out, and you fall into liking makeup and different stuff like that," she told the magazine. "You just kind of have to keep being yourself and move forward with what you love."
One way she's moving forward is by finding humor in the situation. Maroney posted a throwback photo of herself on Instagram, writing, "Me thinking about how to get my face to look like I've never done anything to my face when I've never done anything to my face."
She also discussed the evolution of her career path. While she won't be returning to the Olympics this year, she plans to pursue a different passion — music.
"I've loved writing songs since I was really young," she told Seventeen. "In the next couple of months, I think I'll have a single out, and I'm excited for people to hop on this new journey of mine."
In the meantime, she's been supporting the new U.S. women's gymnastics team, which includes some of her former teammates.
Wherever Maroney's career path takes her, we know the result will be golden — and undoubtedly "impressive."