After recently delivering powerful remarks against her sexual abuser, Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman has joined the #AerieReal campaign to help promote body-positive images.
Aerie revealed that Raisman, along with singer Rachel Platten and actress Yara Shahidi, are part of the company’s newest ad campaign, which avoids the use of Photoshop and airbrushing and aims to empower women by providing realistic images of women’s bodies.
In addition to her medal-winning work as a gymnast, Raisman has also become a champion for women. The athlete made history confronting her sexual abuser, longtime Olympic doctor Larry Nassar. She faced Nassar in a Michigan courtroom last week before he was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting athletes, delivering a powerful speech warning abusers that they couldn’t hide and that “survivors are here, standing tall and we are not going anywhere.”
Raisman alludes to her painful past in the new Aerie campaign, saying in an Instagram post, “We’ve all been through something that in the end, will make you a stronger person.” She described the campaign as a “dream come true” in a December Instagram preview photo.
The #AerieReal campaign also features Raisman posing with Platten, Shahidi and Iskra Lawrence, a model who has long championed positive and realistic body image.
Lawrence and Platten appeared on the Today show on Thursday to talk about the campaign, where Lawrence confided that she was terrified at first to strip down to her underwear.
“I had never done a shoot in my underwear before, so that was terrifying and I was a little uncomfortable, and I was scared that I wouldn’t like the images. And halfway through the shoot, I pulled Iskra aside and said, ‘I don’t know what to do,'” she said. “I felt so insecure and I’m supposed to be confident and we had this amazing moment where she told me to love myself.”
Lawrence added that such feelings aren’t surprising.
“Definitely, I think it relates to so many people out there who feel like they’re not good enough and it’s perpetuated by perfected images in the media or messages we’ve been shown that we have to look and act a certain way,” she said. “I myself struggled with body dysmorphia and eating disorders for six years. And until I started practicing self-care and realizing that my value and my worth is not based on a size, that’s how I started to gain my confidence.”
For her part, Shahidi reposted the image of all four together on Instagram saying, “Let’s keep empowering each other. Let’s continue to create spaces where we can be our authentic, real selves.”
Watch Raisman speak out about body confidence and sexual assault below.
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