Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman wants to stand up against sexual abuse and be a voice for change.
But I think she’s doing it the wrong way.
Recently, Raisman testified in court against USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar for sexually abusing her and dozens of other young women under the guise of “medical treatment.” Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison, a strong victory for women like Raisman who are putting their foot down and saying, “No more.”
That is incredible. Because of the bravery that Raisman and others who had been in her same circumstance showed, that man was locked away where he belongs and justice was served.
But recently, Raisman has decided to pose nude for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue with the phrase, “Women do not have to be modest to be respected,” written down the side of her body.
I wish I could meet Aly Raisman. I would wrap her in a mama bear hug and whisper, “You are right — you don’t have to be modest to be respected. But you don’t have to strip down to be brave, either.”
While I agree that women should be respected regardless of their attire, we have to understand that what we wear sends messages to the world about how we view ourselves and how we want to be treated.
“Modesty in dress is a quality of mind and heart, born of respect for oneself, one’s fellowmen and the creator of us all. Modesty reflects an attitude of humility, decency and propriety,” said President N. Eldon Tanner, who was a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Modesty is empowering! It takes courage to dress in a way that doesn’t reflect the latest sexy fashion trends. Showing off your body is never a way to gain confidence.
Writer Katherine Blakeman wrote a fantastic article for Townhall in which she blasts SI for trying to convince everyone that by showcasing nearly naked women on their glossy photoshopped pages that they are actually presenting women like Raisman with a voice.
“With knifelike precision, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’s hypersexualized images will separate the surface of a woman’s body from everything that makes a woman a woman — her ambitions, empathy, personality, intellect,” Blakeman wrote.
Blakeman goes on to say, “The men that go out to purchase this magazine are not interested in her interests, or her voice, or her having a platform from which to express herself.” They are only interested in the fact that these women are putting their bodies on display and that they can purchase a piece of their virtue for a small price.
Ladies, do not believe the lie that showing off your skin is sexy! Choosing to cover up your most precious and sacred body is not an act of weakness, and showing off your skin is not an act of valiance.
“We are here,” Raisman said to Nassar in court. “We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere.”
Use that strong, unwavering voice, Aly! Do not use your sacred body. Respect yourself. Don’t sell yourself. You are worth gold.