Aly Raisman has no intention of being seen as a victim. After candidly testifying in court about the abuse she and other athletes experienced while working with Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, the Olympics gymnast is reclaiming power over her own body in a gorgeous new photo shoot for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.
The gold medalist is one of 10 women featured in the magazine’s new “In Her Own Words” project (others include Robyn Lawley and Paulina Porizkova), which features models posing entirely nude except for a series of phrases painted on their bodies.
Raisman became her own canvas, and selected a series of uplifting phrases — "Trust yourself," "Every voice matters," "Abuse is never OK" and "Live for you," for starters — to share an inspiring message of self-acceptance, empowerment and confidence.
The positive body-image champion — she starred in a Photoshop-free lingerie campaign for Aerie, American Eagle's lingerie and swim brand, earlier this year — also painted her body with the word "Survivor" and the words "Women do not have to be modest to be respected."
While talking with the magazine, Raisman said she hopes that sharing her story will help give other women some much-needed hope.
"I think everyone goes through really hard times and I’ve decided to be so honest about what I went through because the tough times are very hard to talk about and they are uncomfortable, but they are equally as important into shaping us as the good times," she said in the accompanying interview.
“I would like to remind everyone that being a survivor is nothing to be ashamed of, and going through a hard time does not define you," she said. "I hope that we can one day get to a point where everyone realizes that women do not have to be modest to be respected. We are free to draw confidence and happiness in our own way, and it is never for someone else to choose for us or to even judge us for that matter. For me, 'In Her Own Words' serves as a reminder that we are all humans, we are all battling something, and it is OK to not be OK. We are not alone and we need each other.”