How Aly Raisman is Inspiring Girls Everywhere to Use Their Voice
Aly Raisman has been a role model to gymnasts (and people, in general) all over the world since she competed in the 2012 London Olympics — straight out of high school. Not only was she a part of the Fierce Five with Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Jordyn Wieber, and Kyla Ross, but she was the first American woman to win a gold medal for her floor routine. Fast forward to 2018 and this 23-year-old is now a six-time Olympic medalist!
But as much as we admire the way she can dominate a balance beam, she’s become so much more than just a decorated athlete over the years. She’s become a symbol of female empowerment to women everywhere, whether they’ve ever watched her compete in the Olympics or not. When over 150 underaged girls accused USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexually abusing them last year, Aly was one of the most vocal gymnasts of the bunch. It’s because of Aly, and her fellow
victims SURVIVORS, that Larry was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, after pleading guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct; this is on top of the 60-year sentence he received for federal child pornography charges.
The beautiful athlete didn’t just speak out about her experience in court, but stood up to USA Gymnastics as well for dismissing the accusations for so long. She’s a HERO — and not just for all the medals she has.
And even better, Aly practices what she preaches. When she chooses to partner with companies and endorse products, she chooses those that are female-friendly and extra-empowering. She just did a gorg, no-retouch photo shoot with Aerie, and now she’s partnered with Playtex Sport.
Did you know that 75% of teens quit sports because they feel uncomfortable about getting their period?? Today with the help of @PlaytexSport I surprised these gymnasts at practice, passed on advice and encouraged them to Play On no matter what comes their way. Share your sports advice with #PlayOn to help lift each other up #PlaytexSportPartner
With so much on her plate, the last thing she wants to worry about is her period, but that wasn’t always the case for the 23-year-old.
“I remember I would try to hide my tampon in the palm of my hand,” she told Clevver.com in an exclusive interview. “When you’re at practice and you have to go to the bathroom because you’re on your period, there’s nowhere to put it because leotards don’t have pockets.”
But instead of teaching other female athletes how best to sneak their tampons into the bathroom, Aly wants to teach them how to be loud and proud of what’s going on down there. No shame! That’s what inspired her to work with Playtex Sport. When she found out that 75% of teenage girls say they want to stop playing sports when they get their period, she set out to encourage them to #PlayOn unashamed.
“Playtex actually has these new vending machines where you walk outside in front of everyone, take a selfie, post it on Instagram, and share your best sports advice for free tampons,” Aly explained. “It’s cool because you’re out there in front of everyone and you’re not embarrassed to say that you have your period.”
The vending machines are only in three locations ATM, so until you’ve got the chance to get your hands on those free tampons, Aly’s got some words of wisdom to share with you instead. (And some vending machine snack recs! Her fave is a bag of plain Cheez-Its).
“Try your best to offer advice to each other,” she said. “I think now, more than ever, is such a great time for women and girls. We’re all coming together, and it’s really incredible.”
That’s something she doesn’t just teach her fans, but her siblings, too. The fact that she’s the oldest of four and has two sisters in high school has given Aly an extra push to work with brands that have good messaging. She’s not only setting an example for girls everywhere, but has a lot of influence closer to home, as well.
“To be able to tell them that if they’re upset or insecure about something, to talk about it — it’s important to keep that dialogue going,” she said. “I think it’s important for me to teach my sisters that they have a voice.”
How incredible is that? Sounds like she’s just as amazing in a gymnastics arena as she is out of it. That’s why it’s not just her talent we love, but the way she plays on through all circumstances and inspires those around her.
“People always remember you more for your character than whatever place you are on the podium,” she explained.
Preach, girl! For being so young, this gymnast is clearly wise beyond her years and choosing to use her voice. We’re listening. Are you?