When it comes to body image, the US Swim Team has something to say especially because “you’re basically half-naked your whole life” says four-time Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer. Despite being #goldmedal athletes they're still not immune to body image issues. They've struggled with broad shoulders and muscular bodies that differ vastly from an unrealistic "beauty ideal." But through the camaraderie of their teammates "we now all understand that our bodies are our greatest gift and our greatest asset in the sport that we do every day.”
As a young girl, Misty Hyman thought athleticism equated to attractiveness. She believed being strong was beautiful.
Hyman, who would grow up to become an Olympic gold medalist swimmer, didn’t realize her personal beliefs about beauty didn’t align with society’s until her teenage years — and then the realization hit hard.
“I started to have a sense of what I looked like to other people, and that became an important part,” Hyman said. “It was confusing to determine what’s best for my body in terms of my performance and, ‘Hey, I like getting this attention.’”
Hyman started to watch what she ate, first as a way to enhance her swimming. She looked leaner, thinner — and then better to those around her.
“Competitive swimming can be really extreme — you’re training a lot,” Hyman said. “You do have to have a lot of calories. You do end up with shoulders that are bigger than the average woman, sometimes bigger than your guy friends.
“Now I see that as something that’s beautiful and strong, and I celebrate that. When I was a teen it was very hard to separate those ideas of what femininity is, what beauty is and what my identity was in relation to that as an athlete.”
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