Aly Raisman is giving a sincere thank you to her teenage critics.
The two-time Olympic gymnast says that the boys used to make fun of her growing up because of her hard-earned muscles — but their comments only made her a better person.
“Shoutout to all the boys from 5th-9th grade who made fun of me for being “too strong”. Thanks for forcing me to learn to love myself and my body,” Raisman writes on Instagram.
Though these days, Raisman has millions of fans (not to mention six Olympic medals to her name), she used to get teased for having a different body type.
“My muscular arms that were considered weird and gross when I was younger have made me one of the best gymnasts on the planet,” she says. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you how you should or shouldn’t look. There is no such thing as a perfect body type.”
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Raisman now feels so confident in her body that she’ll gladly show it off. She and her fellow gymnasts shared snaps of their incredible abs on the beach this summer in Rio, and Raisman even posed naked for ESPN‘s Body Issue last year.
“I’ve never had an eating disorder, and I’m proud of that,” she said in the magazine. “Instead of being insecure about my muscles, I’ve learned to love them. I don’t even think of it as a flaw anymore because it’s made me into the athlete that I am. I think imperfection is beauty.”