The 28-year-old figure skater, who is currently competing for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, took to the social media platform on Tuesday with a bold message to his haters.
“To all those who tweet at me saying that they ‘hope I fail’, I have failed many times many times in my life,” he wrote. “But more importantly, I’ve learned from every setback, proudly own up to my mistakes, grown from disappointments, and now I’m a glamazon bitch ready for the runway.”
Rippon also opened up about his body image struggles in an article for The New York Times published Tuesday. He admitted that he used to subsist on coffee and three slices of whole grain bread topped with small allotments of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter per day while trying to achieve a body that more closely resembled fellow figure skaters.
“I looked around and saw my competitors, they’re all doing these quads, and at the same time they’re a head shorter than me, they’re 10 years younger than me and they’re the size of one of my legs,” he shared.
Rippon now weighs 150 lbs., 10 more than he did in 2016 while battling his body issues, and even took up weight training.
And now, his figure even has people questioning if he wears butt pads to enhance his shape. But luckily, he cleared the air on that back in December.
“There’s been a lot questions to whether I compete with butt pads on and I’d like to set the record straight and let it be known that no, it’s just my real butt. Thank you for your interest, comments, and concern. Love you,” Rippon tweeted on Dec. 9.
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An alternate at the 2010 Winter Games who missed the cut in 2014, and already a history-maker for being the first openly gay athlete to ever compete for America in the Winter Olympics, Rippon has not shied away from the role fame gives him as an advocate for the broader LGBTQ community — he has been in the headlines ever since speaking out in a January interview with USA Today about President Donald Trump administration’s policies toward the LGBTQ community, calling out Vice President Mike Pence
“I came here to do a job, and I think that being vocal has kind of given my skating more importance,” he told reporters after his performance on Monday. “It’s not just for me. I got out there because — it’s not just gay kids, I think that everybody can relate to being different or feeling like they’re not good enough or they’ll never make it because they’re from a small town, or maybe they just don’t feel like they’re good enough.”
“Well I had those doubts too,” Rippon continued. “And I say that I can go out there and I want to show those young kids that anything is possible. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what other people say about you, you can put that all behind you and you can go out there and show the world what you have to offer.”
Rippon competed in a free skate as part of the figure skating team event on Monday morning (Sunday night stateside), where he finished in a controversial third place despite his clean skate, while the top two competitors fell during their performances.
“I can’t control the score,” he told PEOPLE not long after leaving the rink. Then he wryly added, “But to the people that were distressed — I hope maybe you can be on a judging panel someday.”
Team USA went on to clinch the bronze medal in the event, thanks in part to 24-year-old Mirai Nagasu making history as the first female U.S. skater to land the notoriously tricky triple axel at the Olympics.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.