Aly Raisman’s ‘Sports Illustrated’ shoot is all about empowering women
Sports Illustrated’s 2018 Swimsuit Edition is here and the magazine ditched the swimsuits to focus on empowerment.
As part of an project called “In Her Own Words,” Sports Illustrated invited models and inspirational women like Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman to express themselves by having impactful words that resonated with them personally painted on their bodies.
Raisman, one of hundreds of women who’ve accused former US Olympic Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar of sexual misconduct, embraced the project with open arms, having the word “survivor” prominently painted across her chest.
On Tuesday, Raisman tweeted a photograph from her personal shoot with Taylor Ballantyne. The word “FIERCE” is seen painted on her arm, and the phrase, “WOMEN DO NOT HAVE TO BE MODEST TO BE RESPECTED” is painted down the side of her body. Raisman also had the phrases “EVERY VOICE MATTERS” and “LIVE 4 YOU” painted on her skin.
In an attached note, she told her Twitter followers, “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 went on. “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.”
“I believe that everyone is a survivor of something.”
The intimate shoot, which Sports Illustrated called “a platform that allows the voice, the strength and the passion of these women to be expressed in the rawest form… on the naked body,” had a team of all women who gave Raisman and the other models full artistic and creative control.
As for why the gymnast decided to be a part of the project, she told Sports Illustrated she found the concept remarkably empowering.
“I believe that everyone is a survivor of something,” she told the magazine. Often times, we feel pressure to keep things in, and being a part of the social media age, we sometimes want to act like everything is perfect,” Rasiman told the magazine.
“I want to help change the conversation where we encourage people to trust themselves and use their voice. I encourage anyone out there to remember that you deserve to feel safe, everyone has a story, and everyone deserves to be heard.”
Over the past few months Raisman has served as a role model to women everywhere, never shying away from speaking about uncomfortable issues like sexual assault, body positivity, and period stigma. She bravely called out the US Olympic Committee on several occasions, and even attended Nassar’s sentencing hearing to read her impact statement in person.
“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,” Aly told Sports Illustrated. “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 Raisman, the “In Her Own Words” project serves as a reminder that everyone is human. “We are all battling something, and it is OK to not be OK. We are not alone and we need each other.”
In addition to Raisman, Paulina Porizkove, Hunter McGrady, Robyn Lawley, and more participated in the project, using their bodies as canvases to share their own personal truths.
You can see the full “In Her Own Words” project here.