Laurie Hernandez is an Olympic gymnast and gold medalist who competed in Rio as part of Team USA's "Final Five." The 17-year-old, who's a 2017 TODAY Style Hero shares her key to being confident and what she really thinks about the nickname "the human emoji."
I love my height because when I'm doing gymnastics it really benefits the sport — and also, I think being short is kind of cute.
I hope that I'm not done growing yet, but I think now would be my stopping point. Although, you never know, an inch or two could still come in the future!
I tell everyone that I'm 5 feet-1 inch tall, but I think I'm technically 5 feet. My mom says she's 4 feet 11 inches and I'm barely taller than her.
Since kindergarten, I was the shortest kid in class. They always put me toward the front in school pictures, because you couldn't see me if I was in the back. It was kind of funny.
The thing that makes me feel the most confident is definitely my smile. I like that my smile and my facial expressions really show what I'm feeling and my smile is the best way to show that I'm happy.
In gymnastics, I've had two almost-knock-my-teeth-out moments so it took a lot to keep these teeth. I'm going to show them off!
People call me the human emoji because of the expressive faces I make, and I definitely like the nickname. I feel like anything I'm thinking really shows up on my face, so it matches me pretty well.
To the young girls who look up to me I say be confident, because being confident means being happy, being positive and also being kind to other people.
As told to TODAY's Emily Sher. This essay has been edited and condensed for clarity.
This article was originally published on July 18, 2017 on TODAY.