Jordan Chiles: I Found Power in Talking About Getting Body Shamed

Jordan Chiles is an Olympic gymnast. For PS's Radical Honesty issue, she discusses being body shamed — and how she deals with body image today. Read more radically honest stories here.

When I was younger, I didn't really know I was getting body shamed. I had times where I would get weighed and I had to be a certain weight, and I never understood why. But now that I look back, that's trauma. I still have issues trying to convince myself that it's OK to eat certain things, that it's OK to go out with your friends and eat a meal with them. There are times when it is a struggle. But I am overcoming that. That's something I work on every single day.

What's helped me navigate that is understanding I'm human and I'm a woman and in order for me to be able to perform, I have to be well-nourished. The nutrition that I put into my body is only going to help me perform. The biggest thing now in my mind now is, "Is this too much? Is this too little?" That's kind of the trigger point right now, but as I've been getting older and understanding my body more, I've been trying to figure that all out.

At the end of the day, whoever is on the other side of that screen saying things, they must have something that they're not proud of within themselves.

I spoke out about the experience in 2021, because I felt like I had more confidence within myself to actually speak about something so harsh that happened in my life. Yes, it did take some time obviously, because it happened back in 2017. I think it was just trying to understand, who is this going to benefit? Is it only going to benefit me, because I'm getting things off my chest, or am I going to be able to help people who've had the exact same experience?

And when I spoke out, there were some people who had no idea, because they knew who my coach was. Some people were like, "Whoa, that's crazy!" I had some good feedback and bad feedback, and the bad feedback came from old teammates who said, "Oh, she never did that to me," and I would have to explain, "Well, that's my story, it's not your story." But a majority of people were saying, "Great job that you were able to speak about what you went through; it's only going to help others."

In the end, my message is that God created you in a way for you to love yourself, for you to be able to take care of yourself, and for you to be able to experience what you can within your lifetime. So when it comes to your body, don't let that negativity get to you, because at the end of the day, your beauty is something that you should embrace. Whether it's your hair or makeup or skin care, whatever it is, just embrace that. There is only one you, and no one can change the way you look and present yourself. God created you to be on this earth for a reason, and that's something I take everywhere I go. At the end of the day, whoever is on the other side of that screen saying things, they must have something that they're not proud of within themselves, and they're trying to make you not proud of it as well. But don't let that get to you. Be the person you are.

Jump back to the Radically Honest issue.

— As told to Lena Felton

Lena Felton is the senior director of features and special content at POPSUGAR, where she oversees feature stories, special projects, and our identity content. Previously, she was an editor at The Washington Post, where she led a team covering issues of gender and identity.