Aly Raisman is stripped down in the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, and the gold-medal winning gymnast is doing it to deliver a message.
The Olympic gold medalist has been back in the public eye after taking a front-and-center role in the trial against former U.S. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted on dozens of counts of sexually abusing athletes. Now, she is earning buzz of a different kind after appearing in the buff (but strategically covered) in the magazine’s annual swimsuit issue.
As Fox News noted, Raisman appeared in the issue’s “In Her Own Words” feature, which showed her nude with a series of phrases written on her body, including “abuse is never okay.”
The pictures were met with a positive reaction online, with many sharing Aly Raisman’s nude picture across social media and praising the gold medalist for her bravery in speaking out against Nassar. Raisman was one of the earliest and most vocal athletes against him, and her admonishment to him that “You are nothing” became one of the lasting moments of a long and difficult sentencing phase.
The nude photo was not the first time that Aly Raisman graced the Sports Illustrated pages. She was also included in the magazine’s swimsuit issue last year, showing off her figure in a black bikini.
This year, Aly Raisman’s nude photos drew a bit of controversy as some have criticized the magazine for its attempts to empower women while still having them post nude. As Fox News noted, the pictures drew a backlash online.
Singer and political commentator Kaya Jones said she was “appalled” at the decision to include nude women in an attempt to show an empowering message.
“I feel disgusted that you show naked women in your magazine and claim you support women when you are completely objectifying women,” Jones tweeted.
But Aly Raisman said she hoped to deliver a larger message by posing nude in the magazine, telling Sports Illustrated that she wants to empower survivors and show that women are free to show off if they see fit.
“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,” Raisman told SI Swim.
“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.”
Many fans seemed to agree. As Aly Raisman’s nude photos went viral, she earned plenty of encouraging comments, especially from those who praised her more muscular physique, not always the norm in a swimsuit issue. Raisman’s full photo shoot can be seen here.