00:57 - Source: CNN
Raisman: The stress and trauma is exhausting (2018)

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"Women do not have to be modest to be respected," a message on Raisman's body says

This is Raisman's second year posing in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue

CNN —  

Her scathing words to Larry Nassar became an iconic message of female empowerment. Now Aly Raisman is making another powerful statement – by wearing only her words.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist posed nude for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, with words such as “survivor,” “fierce,” “women” and “every voice matters” written across her body.

One phrase along her right side may serve as a preemptive response to the inevitable critics: “Women do not have to be modest to be respected.”

The photo spread, featured in SI Swimsuit’s “In Her Own Words” project, has drawn mixed reactions.

“Aly Raisman makes Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition more than respectable,” Joseph Barri tweeted. “Awesome. Gutsy! Another kind of gold!”

Critics said the shoot was counterproductive. Some pointed out that Raisman posed semi-nude in last year’s swimsuit issue of the magazine, before the #MeToo movement swept the country.

“I wonder how much money sports illustrated offered Aly Raisman to pose nude again,” one commenter tweeted. “She sold out.. great message poorly executed.”

But Raisman has made her stance very clear: It doesn’t matter what a woman wears (or in this case, doesn’t wear) – she should feel empowered to assert herself, and no one has the right to abuse her.

“Everyone should feel comfortable expressing themselves however makes them happy,” Raisman said in a statement about her photo shoot.

“Women can be intelligent, fierce, sexy, powerful, strong, advocate for change while wearing what makes them feel best. The time where women are taught to be ashamed of their bodies is OVER.”

Raisman, 23, is one of more than 160 women and girls who said they were sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who will spend the rest of his life in prison for criminal sexual conduct.

In November, after critics denounced her 2017 semi-nude photo shoot, Raisman fired back.

“Just to be clear… Just because a woman does a sexy photoshoot or wears a sexy outfit does not give a man the right to shame or or not believe her when she comes forward about sexual abuse,” Raisman tweeted.

“AND when a woman dresses sexy it does not give a man the right to sexually abuse her EVER. Women are allowed to feel sexy and comfortable in their own skin, in fact I encourage you all to wear what you feel good in.”