In the Face of Body-Shaming, Nastia Liukin Is Taking Pride In Her Strength
The internet seems to have a lot of opinions about Nastia Liukin's body. Recently, the Olympic gymnast took to Instagram to share a distasteful DM she received, which body-shamed her for being "too skinny." The message, which was sent to Liukin in response to a mirror selfie she took after a pilates workout, asked if she thought she was "promoting borderline anorexia looking bodies." (Insert eye roll here.)
Rather than responding to the troll privately, Liukin took the opportunity to share a screenshot of the DM to her Instagram feed and explain how detrimental this kind of scrutiny can be to one's mental health. (Related: Why Body-Shaming Is Such a Big Problem and What You Can Do to Stop It)
"This week I got a DM that really triggered me in so many ways," the gold medalist wrote alongside the post. "It made me feel: defeated, pissed, sad, annoyed, confused, shocked, and many other feelings. If taking pictures of my OWN body — a body that won me many Olympic medals, a body that I push each day to get stronger, a body that God gave me — is inherently promoting anorexia, then honestly, we've gotten to a place in the world where just BEING is offensive." (Related: Instagram Yogi Speaks Out Against Skinny Shaming)
Liukin shared that she understands how her body type could seem "triggering" to some, particularly people with eating disorders. Still, that shouldn't mean she has to hide what she naturally looks like, she continued. "I'm sorry if my body is triggering to you," she wrote. "I don't believe that I should have to cover it up for fear of being offensive. I promote real, I promote raw, and I promote truth." (Liukin is just one of the many Olympians who are proud to tell you why they love their bodies.)
Sadly, this isn't the first time Liukin has had to shut down trolls for saying hateful things about her body. After retiring from gymnastics in 2012, she gained 25 pounds and was quickly bombarded by comments calling her "fat." Then, a few years later, she started receiving messages that shamed her for being "too skinny" and "unhealthy."
"No matter what, you're never going to be what people want," the 30-year-old athlete told Stylecaster at the time. (Related: Women Around the World Photoshop Their Ideal Body Image)
Now, all these years later, Liukin is still fighting the same battle. "This is ME," she continued writing in her Instagram post. "This is my body. While I've always been thin, I've not always been strong. I'm proud to say that I am truly stronger now than I've ever been." (Need proof? Watch her crush this intense lower-body stair circuit like it's NBD.)
Like Liukin, Olympic gymnasts have had a history of being picked apart for their bodies. You might remember back in 2016, Simone Biles fired back at a troll who called her "ugly" after she posted a picture of herself in a cute getup while on vacation. "You all can judge my body all you want, but at the end of the day it's MY body," she wrote on Twitter at the time. "I love it & I'm comfortable in my skin."
In another incident following the 2016 Rio Olympics, Biles and her teammates, Aly Raisman and Madison Kocian were all body-shamed for their muscles after Biles posted a photo of them wearing bikinis on the beach. Since then, Raisman has gone on to become a passionate advocate for body positivity and has joined forces with progressive brands like Aerie to encourage women to feel comfortable in their skin. (Related: Simone Biles Shares Why She's "Done Competing" with Other People's Beauty Standards)
Together, these badass ladies have shown how important it is to stand up for yourself and put an end to body shaming. "Every BODY should be loved — and why shouldn't my body fall into that, too?" Liukin wrote in her post before addressing her troll directly.
"I'm sorry for whatever you're going through that made you think writing this note to me was in any way OK," she shared. "I hope you heal from your traumas just as I have healed from mine and continue to."
If you or someone you know is at risk or experiencing an eating disorder, resources are available online from the National Eating Disorders Association or through the NEDA hotline at 800-931-2237.