By Sara E. Hoffmann, School & Library Series Managing Editor
As a big gymnastics fan, I was thrilled to edit Lerner’s Gateway Biography on Aly Raisman. But even more impressive to me than Raisman’s gymnastics talent is her status as an activist for victims of abuse and a spokesperson for body positivity.
I learned a lot I didn’t know about Raisman and her activism before editing this book. Here are three things in particular that impressed me.
- In addition to speaking out against the abuse she experienced at the hands of the former USA Gymnastics team doctor, Raisman has been vocal about peer abuse. As a child, she was bullied so badly about her lean frame and muscular arms that she refused to wear tank tops to school. By telling her story, she lets others facing peer abuse know they are not alone.
- She calls out body shaming for what it is—and she absolutely refuses to be shamed for what she wears. She’s gone on record saying she wears whatever she likes and that no one ever has the right to shame someone else’s body by questioning if what they’re wearing is “appropriate.”
- She has posed unretouched in numerous photos, conveying the truth to all women that every body is deserving of respect. Contrary to messages promoted by the media, there is no one single ideal look or body type. Rather than “embracing our flaws,” Raisman encourages us to recognize that there are no flaws—only differences.
I hope readers will be every bit as inspired by Raisman as I was. In the pages of this Gateway lies the story of one incredible athlete and activist!