Simone Biles continues to show the world just how magical Black girls are in the August issue of Vogue Magazine. Dishing on everything from impossible beauty standards to the abuse in the gymnast world, Biles proves that strength looks differently on everyone.
Part of her interview takes place pre-Covid at the Lower Eastside Girl’s Club where Biles served as the guest speaker. She dropped gems about society’s obsession with physical appearance. “No matter how good you are in your sport, in life, in work, the number one thing people talk about is how you look,” she told the crowd. “You’re still going to thrive. You’re going to become somebody amazing and great. You guys are all beautiful, inside and out.”
Biles has spent a lot of her time in the spotlight defending everything from her hair to her ultra-toned body. Despite the criticisms, she’s become the number one gymnast in her field for both men and women. In fact, Biles hasn’t lost a meet since 2013. After winning her 5th all-around international title, she became the most decorated gymnast in World Championship history.
The interview shifts from Biles record-breaking accolades, to the abuse suffered by the USA Olympians at the hands of Larry Nassar. Nassar was the USA Gymnastics national team doctor and osteopathic physician who was accused of sexually assaulting at least 250 young women and girls dating back to 1992, including Biles. This case played out on an Netflix docu-series titled Athlete A.
Biles recounts the anxiety and depression she suffered during that time. “I was very depressed,” Biles said. “At one point I slept so much because, for me, it was the closest thing to death without harming myself. It was an escape from all of my thoughts, from the world, from what I was dealing with. It was a really dark time.”
In hearing her friend and former team member Maggie Nichols recount her experience, it helped Biles face her own. “I was reading Maggie’s coverage and it just hit me,” Biles said. “I was like, I’ve had the same treatments. I remember googling, like, sexually abused. Because I know some girls had it worse than me. I know that for a fact. So I felt like I wasn’t abused, because it wasn’t to the same extent as the other girls. Some of my friends had it really, really bad. They were his favorite. Since mine wasn’t to that capacity, I felt like it didn’t happen.”
Processing this kind of trauma can lead to healing or destruction. Though this process, Biles found her voice and used it to make major changes in the Gymnast industry. Healing is a ongoing process. This interview is evidence that Biles is on the right track. You can read the interview here.