Los Angeles (AFP) – Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman has appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for the second-straight year, only this time she is doing it with an empowering message of survival.
Raisman, who is dedicating her time to fighting sexual abuse, is shown posing with the words “survivor” written across her chest.
“Women do not have to be modest to be respected — Live for you!” she wrote in a social media posting about the photo shoot.
“Everyone should feel comfortable expressing themselves however makes them happy. Women can be intelligent, fierce, sexy, powerful, strong, advocates for change while wearing what makes them feel best,” Raisman said.
“The time where women are taught to be ashamed of their bodies is OVER. The female body is beautiful and we should all be proud of who we are, inside and out.”
Raisman was featured in what the magazine called its “In Her Own Words” project. The female models had the chance to choose their own messages with words or statements written on their bodies. The issue goes on sale in newsstands this week.
The 23-year-old Raisman led the American gymnastics team to gold medals in 2012 and 2016.
She is also one of at least 265 female athletes — including several Olympic gold medalists in gymnastics — who said former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar abused them over a period of two decades in what is the worst scandal in US Olympic team history.
Nassar, 54, will spend the rest of his life in prison for his crimes following sentencing which concluded this month.
Raisman said she was pleased to be appearing in the Swimsuit Issue two years in a row.
“It’s hard to put into words how special it is to be able to be a part of something like this,” Raisman said. “Sports Illustrated is allowing us to share a different side of us that people don’t normally see,” which she called “really incredible.”
She said it is “even more special with this movement that we have with so many incredible stories and so many survivors coming forward.”
Other models appearing in the issue include Ashley Graham, Brenna Huckaby and Ebonee Davis.