Since Aly Raisman took a step back from gymnastics in January 2020, she’s had some extra time to focus in on her search for self-love. One thing that’s played a big part in her progress? Hanging up her uniform.

“It definitely helps not being in a leotard every single day. I feel like when I was training, there were mirrors everywhere. It’s very tempting, every time you walk by a mirror, to stop and be like, ‘Ok, how do I look today?’” the #AerieReal role model exclusively told Us Weekly. 

Aly Raisman Says Not Being in a Leotard Everyday Has Helped Her Practice Self Love and Body Acceptance
Aerie

Instead of wearing a leotard on repeat, she’s found herself reaching for comfy, cozy clothes that help her feel like her “true self.” “I love fashion, but I also prioritize how I feel,” she said. “That’s why I love working with Aerie because their clothes are very cute and stylish and fun, but they’re also about being comforting and feeling good.” 

While leggings, sweatshirts and sherpa jackets have found a permanent spot in her wardrobe, she doesn’t underestimate the appeal of a top-notch turtleneck. 

“I love turtlenecks. I don’t know why, but they just make me feel very comfortable,” the Olympic gold medalist told Stylish. “I feel more confident. In a weird way, I almost feel sexier in a turtleneck. It’s just cozy. I feel like turtlenecks are high fashion.” 

In addition to wearing clothes that make her feel her best, Raisman told Stylish that working closely with Aerie — and starring in a handful of their non-retouched campaigns — have been instrumental in how she talks to herself and deals with body image. 

“When I do photo shoots with Aerie, they don’t retouch anything. That message is so powerful and it’s helped remind me that no matter who you are, nobody needs retouching,” she said. “The idea of retouching is so damaging on so may levels. The fact that they don’t do that has helped me a lot in my own journey. I’m still on that journey.” 

She continued: “It’s also taught me a lot about myself and really focusing on the things that matter and who I really am rather than what’s on the outside.” 

While she’s come a long way, Raisman emphasizes that it’s truly a “journey” and she’ll have an “off” day now and again. “There’s still certain moments where it’s easier to practice body acceptance — other times it’s really hard …” she told Us. “I try to remind myself that that’s ok. I have to be careful with what I’m saying to myself, making sure I’m being nice. Often times, the things I’m insecure about no one is even noticing.” 

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