Nastia Liukin just can’t win.
The former Olympic gymnast, 28, said she constantly gets body shamed for her weight, and has been accused of being both “fat” and “too thin.”
Liukin said that she gained 25 lbs. after retiring from gymnastics, which led to criticism.
“People remembered me as this petite blond gymnast in a leotard, and then I go through the normal body changes and people are like, ‘Oh my God. You’re so fat,’ ” she told StyleCaster.
Liukin started to struggle with her confidence, and began skipping out on events to hide in her apartment.
“I had almost this identity crisis,” she said. “I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what to wear … I lost all my self-confidence … I didn’t want to go to events or to dinner or do anything because I was so insecure with myself and my body because of what other people were saying.”
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She eventually accepted that her body wouldn’t look the way it did when she was training for the Olympics, and stopped pressuring herself. But as she focused on her health and started to lose weight, the body shaming shifted to accuse her of being “too thin.”
“No matter what, you’re still being body-shamed,” Liukin said. “On my Instagram yesterday, someone was like, ‘Jeez. When are you going to start eating again?’ It’s like, ‘Trust me. I eat just fine.’ I am healthy … It hurts the same, whether it’s one way or another. No matter what, you’re never going to be what people want.”
And Liukin gets criticism for more than just her weight. She would often hear that she looked “bitchy,” especially when she was competing.
“When a lot of men compete, they can be serious, but that’s not perceived as being bitchy or having a bitch face. For a female, it is,” she said. “It was hard for me when I was younger because people were like, ‘Oh my God. She seems like a bitch.’ I was like, ‘No. I’m really not. I’m just focused.’ ”
Through all the judgment, Liukin has learned to focus on how she feels, not what other people say.
“It’s important to be happy from within,” Liukin said. “Don’t focus on what other people want you to look like or to be or to work on or to say. If I’m happy with my body, and I know that I’m healthy, I need to stop worrying about everybody else. Happiness is strength.”