Here's To ​Simone Biles, Olympic Champion, Survivor Of Sexual Assault And All-Around Amazing Woman​

Here's To ​Simone Biles, Olympic Champion, Survivor Of Sexual Assault And All-Around Amazing Woman​

Coming forward took great strength for all of the gymnasts involved. Oftentimes, they are seen as indomitable simply because of their sheer power and strength.

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Simone Biles has been a household name in the gymnastics world since 2013. She has racked up an insane amount of awards, earning the titles of three-time world all-around champion (2013–15), three-time world floor champion (2013–15), two-time world balance beam champion (2014, 2015), and, most recently, five-time United States national all-around champion (2013–16, 2018). On the 19th, Biles became the first gymnast ever to win five U.S. all-around titles, after she won every event in the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. This feat, alone, is impressive, but it is even more amazing taking into account that Biles took a two-year hiatus after the Rio Olympics.

Biles is often applauded for her poise, power, and grace out on the floor. But it is the fierceness and humility that she embodies in her work and everyday life that makes her so admirable. In 2017, Larry Nassar — former USA gymnastics team doctor — was convicted of child pornography charges and seven counts of sexual assault of minors... one of those minors being Simone Biles. Aly Raisman was the first gymnast to come forward about the sexual abuse that occurred, with members Maggie Nicols and Mckayla Maroney following closely behind (Biles and Gabby Douglas came forward later). The gymnastics sex abuse scandal rocked the nation, revealing a tightly-kept and dark secret within the industry.

Coming forward took great strength for all of the gymnasts involved. Oftentimes, they are seen as indomitable simply because of their sheer power and strength. Being able to push their bodies to almost superhuman limits falsely conveys the notion that they are invulnerable. But all women and men are at risk and can be targeted at any time, an important point to make in a world that is overwhelmingly consumed in rape culture.

Biles is an amazing role model for girls growing up in this generation. Aside from being a bad-ass gymnast, she shows young girls that there is a multitude of ways to achieve success and fulfillment. Social media has skewed the idea of what it means to be an influencer or to be famous. So many people are obsessed with attention and validation that they go about getting them in the wrong manner. "Trolling," aka deliberately making offensive posts or doing offensive things, has become popular by internet personalities like Boonk Gang, Woah Vicky, and Logan Paul, while young girls idolize Youtubers and Instagram models who are little known for anything other than being pretty or starting drama (Simplynessa15, Chandler Alexis, Tana Mongeau, etc.). Biles shows girls that hard work is rewarding and that they can be successful doing things they love, not things meant to shallowly draw attention.

Not only that, but Biles, and every other female gymnast, challenge traditional beauty standards and the narrative of what it means to be beautiful or feminine. Today's society is obsessed with being "thicc," which is unrealistic and impossible for many women. Biles shows girls what an actual healthy body looks like. We claim to be obsessed with fitness and being in shape, but oftentimes we worry so much about getting a bigger butt or bigger boobs that we don't place any importance on living an actual healthy lifestyle.

Even worse, we narrow-mindedly believe that large muscles are signs of masculinity. Not only that, but we kill ourselves trying to always be perfect: we need the perfect hair, makeup, outfit, selfie, etc., simply because we think anything less than perfection is not worthy. Among many other well-known girls her age, Biles is one of the few that posts pictures with messy hair, basic outfits, and subpar lighting. She isn't concerned with being perfect because she's unapologetically herself and she knows that's worth enough.

No, Simone Biles is not "thicc," nor does she always look like a perfectly polished model. But she is still unbelievably athletic, thriving, and beautiful inside and out... something that girls need to be constantly reminded of. Fulfilling beauty standards is not the only way for you to be seen or validated, and it is not a determinant of your worth.

simonebiles / Instagram

Female gymnasts have been breaking barriers and inspiring others for years, and Simone Biles is no exception. Now, more than ever, we need more women who are strong, full of integrity, and unapologetically themselves.

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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The Kardashians Exploit Our Insecurities For Profit

From lovingly describing themselves as "anorexic looking" and promoting appetite suppressing lollipops, they are turning a profit from the insecurities of women.

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I love Keeping Up With The Kardashians as much as the next girl. In fact, it is one of the many ways my roommates and I enjoy procrastinating. But, that being said, as someone who will spend the rest of her life recovering from an eating disorder and teetering on the edge of relapse, a lot of what the Kardashians do and say is really problematic. Especially when it comes to body image, something that has come to the forefront of people's attention lately.

In a new episode, Kim seems thrilled when her sisters describe her as "anorexic looking". First of all, what the hell? Society's image of anorexia is a story for another day, but it is not whatever Kim Kardashian looks like. It's ribs and hip bones jutting out so far that it seems alien and hollowed out eyes with heavy shadows. By giving women the impression that anorexia looks like Kim Kardashian, they are promoting the idea of not eating. And trust me, it only takes a quick Google search to find literally thousands of resources to help you down the rabbit hole of an eating disorder.

But, the bigger problem, in my opinion, is all their damn advertisements on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter for various dieting products. They are the champions of Fit Tea, and Kim received a lot of backlash for promoting appetite suppressing lollipops on her page. The problem here is two-pronged: The results of that product are falsified because they also have access to personal trainers, nutritionists, and plastic surgeons, and they are actively profiting off of the insecurities of the women who look up to them. That's messed up.

The Kardashians sell the idea that anyone can look just like them if they just drink tea that gives them uncontrollable diarrhea and substances that get rid of your need to feel hungry, a tactic that the anorexic community is famous for. For the adults that look up to them, it can serve as the catalyst to someone who is already in the "perfect storm" of suffering, and create a lifelong battle with their self-esteem, their body and their mind. Eating disorders will eat you alive.

But for the younger girls that are watching them? The Kardashians are showing them that the way to beauty like theirs is being so skinny that others will describe you as "anorexic". That the only way to beauty is Fit Tea and hating your body that is perfect and beautiful in its own way because it doesn't look like someone who has access to millions of dollars worth of specialists, and doctors and plastic surgeons. And they won't be able to see that the Kardashians are using all this in order to make money off of the fact that in our culture if you aren't a 00 and platinum blonde, you're ugly.

It's horrible that the self-proclaimed "champions of women" are making money of the self-hatred of people who look up to them, who religiously watch their show, and follow their lives on social media. It's beyond horrible, really. It's absolutely sickening.

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