Poised. Strong. Champion. It's hard to know how best to define Aly Raisman in just a single attribute. Watching the 23-year-old Olympian glide, tumble, and fly through the air during her 2016 Summer Olympics routine was as close to watching gymnastics magic as it gets. Oh, and who can forget her nailing those landings. She crushed it in every sense of the word.
Off the mat, it's been a different story not only for Aly but for US women's gymnastics in general following the news of the team doctor Larry Nassar, who was recently charged and sentenced to between 40 and 125 years of jail time for sexual assault.
While it's certainly been a tough time for Aly, with the Winter Olympics just around the corner, she is aiming to spread another more positive message and one that you can wear on your sleeve. Literally.
In collaboration with U.S clothing and lifestyle brand Life is Good, Aly has designed a T-Shirt line of her own that's aimed at empowering and inspiring women and girls of all ages to be genuinely proud and confident in who they are.
"I was excited to work with Life is Good because they're all about spreading the power of optimism and focusing on the good," Aly wrote in an email to Parents.com. "With that in mind, I aimed to create a line of T-shirts that would instill the same positivity in the younger generation. I thought about the most important values in my life—kindness, authenticity, and courage—and worked with Life is Good to turn those messages into T-shirts."
The Aly Tee Collection, which features three women's t-shirts, and five girls t-shirts were all designed by Aly in collaboration with Life Is Good and feature an important motto or quote, like "Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken," "Power in Kindness," and "Land of The Free Because of The Brave."
"One of my goals for this line was to create designs that exemplify strength, and more importantly, that strength is something all girls and women can have, on the inside and out," Aly wrote in the email. "For example, the "Power in Kindness" graphic shows a silhouette of a girl being strong by making a muscle, which is something everyone can do! I also wanted the designs to be fun and a subtle reminder that I am strong, I am brave, I should love myself."
The Life is Good Foundation, whose brand messaging is about spreading the power of optimism, donates 10% of its profits to help kids heal from the traumas of poverty, violence, and illness. It's a good fit for Aly and for anyone facing adversity in one way or another.
"It's important to remember that everyone is going through something, and we need to support each other and be kind to one another," Aly wrote. "There have been many times throughout my life and career that I've faced negativity—the boys in school used to bully me because of my muscles—but you never know what someone is dealing with and instead of being negative in response, kindness is always the best response."
Now those are the words of a champion.
Michelle Gross is a travel, food, and lifestyle journalist based in Jersey City. Her writing and photographs have appeared in Vogue, The Huffington Post, Food&Wine and The San Francisco Chronicle. Keep up with Michelle's travels on Instagram and Twitter @MtoTheGNYC