Olympian Aly Raisman’s new photo shoot for Sports Illustrated Swim is truly beautiful. The gymnast posed alongside celebs like Sailor Brinkley Cook as part of the magazine’s “In Her Own Words” project, a series of black-and-white nude portraits where each participant chose words to write in black ink on their bodies.
Raisman chose “trust yourself,” “live for you,” and “abuse is never okay.” Those are words Raisman lives out: the gymnast made headlines the world over for her brave public testimony confronting the team doctor who sexually abused her and more than 140 female athletes, and for her words of comfort to other survivors of sexual abuse. Now she’s using her empowering SI Swimsuit 2018 appearance to show that women can express themselves any way they want.
“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.”
We never thought an SI Swimsuit issue would be this inspiring — or tear-inducing, for that matter. Here’s what Raisman told People on the meaning of the shoot: “For me, ‘In Her Own Words’ serves as a reminder that we are all humans, we are all battling something, and it is OK to not be OK,” she said. “We are not alone and we need each other.”