'Imperfection is beauty''Imperfection is beauty'

Jewish gymnast bares all on beam

Gold medalist Aly Raisman reflects on body image and athletic focus for a new, nude video on ESPN

Gymnast Aly Raisman bares all as the cover girl for ESPN’s latest, the “Body Issue.” The Olympic gold medalist appears fully nude in an ESPN video, discussing her passion for gymnastics, her intense regimen and the sport that inspires and challenges her.

Rather than titillating or pornographic, the images and accompanying video focuses on the 22-year-old’s remarkable physical strength and feminine, yet muscular physique as she moves through and strikes various poses on the balance beam. Although she displays great agility, and is clearly unclothed, she hardly shows “it all.”

Raisman, who is 5’2 and 115 pounds, recognizes how gymnasts are of different body types, some thin and lithe. Yet she shares how she has come to love her muscles for the strength they give her. As she tells ESPN, “I think imperfection is beauty. Instead of being insecure about my muscles, I’ve learned to love them. I don’t even think of it as a flaw anymore because it’s made me into the athlete that I am.”

If she makes the US team for the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, at 22 Raisman will be the oldest competing gymnast. At the last Olympics she took home two golds and a bronze.

Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman during her ESPN photo shoot (photo credit: YouTube capture)
Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman during her ESPN photo shoot (photo credit: YouTube capture)

In London she performed her winning floor routine to the crowd-pleasing “Hava Nagila,” and in interviews, told reporters that she felt the 2012 games should have honored the 40th anniversary of the terrorist attack that took the lives of Israeli athletes and trainers at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

“If there had been a moment’s silence,” the 18-year-old told the world following her win, “I would have supported it and respected it.”

Back in 2012, the New York Post quoted Raisman’s rabbi praising Raisman’s victory and her “mettle” in remembering the slain Israeli Olympians.

“She is a focused person,” said Rabbi Keith Stern of Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.

“She’s very proud and upfront about being Jewish,” Stern said. “Neither she nor her family explicitly sought to send a message. But it shows how very integrated her Jewish heritage is in everything that she does.

In her ESPN video, Raisman explains the intense pressures involved with training a lifetime for a minute-and-a-half beam routine.

“I work out six days, 32 hours a week for the dream of competing at the Olympics again. I’m always eating healthy, always going to bed early. Everything I put into my body is for the purpose of gymnastics,” said Raisman.

"Hava Nagila" fan Aly Raisman will take her moves to primetime. (YouTube)
Jewish-American Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman holding a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. (photo credit: screen capture, YouTube)

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