How Aly Raisman used the “Sports Illustrated” Swimsuit Issue as an empowering platform


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Photo: Swimsuit Issue

In the past few months, the conversation has changed (or in many cases, has started) in regard to the everyday harassment, abuse, and subjugation of women—and that shift is partly due to how celebrities have shone their limelight on the issue. Though she’s already done her fair share of speaking out for women’s rights recently, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman participated in yet another initiative: posing nude for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

SI‘s Swimsuit Issue might not be an obvious platform for addressing the #MeToo movement or women’s advocacy, but this latest edition includes a campaign called In Her Own Words. In addition to the typical shots of women lying on the sand in bikinis (or, often not), this year’s Swimsuit Issue features unedited photos of 36 nude women shot by an all-female crew; people featured in the campaign include plus-size models, returning SI alumni, and athletes such as Raisman.

“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 Raisman, Olympic athlete

The women photographed for In Her Own Words were given creative control to pick the words and phrases painted onto their body. Raisman, who recently dealt, both privately and publicly, with the sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of disgraced Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, painted “Survivor,” “Every voice matters,” and “Women do not need to be modest to be respected” onto her body.

In her shoot, Raisman not only made a bold statement about silencing and victim blaming but also shared with SI that she wants to “encourage anyone out there to remember that you deserve to feel safe, everyone has a story, and everyone deserves to be heard.” Raisman added, “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.”

Here’s what you need to know about when your #MeToo story happens at work and how Tracee Ellis Ross’ book is teaches children about the issue.

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