Two-time Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman shared quite the disturbing experience on Twitter about her recent trip back from the Turks and Caicos on Wednesday. According to Raisman, a male TSA agent made judgmental comments about her body while going through airport security. Raisman's response to body shaming in a flurry of tweets about the incident was pretty much the most perfect way she could have responded to such a troubling experience.
In a series of four tweets, Raisman described the entire encounter. According to Raisman, a female TSA agent asked Raisman if she was a gymnast, noting that she recognized her by her biceps. At that point, Raisman alleges a male TSA agent said, "I don't see any muscles" while he "continued [to] stare" at her. She called the whole ordeal "rude [and] uncomfortable." After describing the encounter, Raisman launched into a powerful series of tweets about positive body image and the sexism that women must still endure based on physical appearance alone.
While the TSA did not immediately respond to Romper's request for comment, the the TSA customer service Twitter account replied to Raisman's tweets on Wednesday, encouraging her to contact the agency, tweeting, "We expect our officers to treat everyone with courtesy and respect."
Raisman is an outspoken advocate for promoting positive body image, who has shared in numerous interviews her own struggle with body insecurity and disparaging comments made about her body in the past. Just as she's done in nearly every instance of such body shaming, Raisman hit back at this latest body-shamer with a kickass, empowering response. Let's break it down, shall we?
Raisman has every right to be angry about people judging her about her arms. In a November 2016 Instagram post, Raisman described how middle school boys used to make fun of her for being "too strong," saying, "My muscular arms that were considered weird and gross when I was younger have made me one of the best gymnasts on the planet." As Raisman's alleged encounter at TSA proves, women just can't win: Either she's too muscular, or not muscular enough — so which is it? Answer: It doesn't matter, because her body is not subject to others' approval or standards of beauty and fitness.
Raisman took her message further, saying that any man who can't compliment a woman's strength is sexist.
And she's right: You don't have to look very far to find plenty of women athletes who've been criticized for how muscular their bodies look instead of praised for their athletic accomplishments. Just ask tennis champion Serena Williams, who's been called a man for her looks, or UFC fighter Ronda Rousey who has been called "too fat" by critics.
Finally, Raisman calls out the body shaming judgment for what it was: Muscles or otherwise, there's no way she could look "strong enough" in the eyes of that TSA agent, because she's a woman.
Apparently, this TSA agent must have had no idea who Raisman was, otherwise he'd had kept his mouth shut knowing that she took home a gold medal in both the London and Rio Olympics. But it shouldn't matter whether Raisman is an Olympic gold medalist or just your average woman who likes to keep fit: Federal employees — or anyone, for that matter — have no business making judgmental and outright inappropriate comments about a person's body.
Raisman's response to the body shaming slayed it with as much eloquence and power as she brings to the mat.