Simone Biles is a force of nature. Just 24, she has won seven Olympic medals, including four golds, and is rightfully known as the GOAT of gymnastics. The Texas native has landed numerous major endorsement deals and has graced the pages of countless magazines, including the 2017 and 2019 SI Swimsuit Issues. The athlete’s goal was to inspire women and show “girls that all body types are beautiful.”
Then the gymnast unexpectedly faced a mental block at the Tokyo Olympics last July, forcing her to withdraw from the team competition and several individual events. As a result, she has become a champion in the mental health and wellness movement. Accustomed to using her strong voice in the spotlight, last fall she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, denouncing the FBI for its failure to adequately address sexual abuse claims against former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. (Biles announced in January 2018 that she, like hundreds of women, had been sexually assaulted by Nassar, who is now serving life in prison for his actions.)
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Despite having experienced such emotional turmoil, Biles continues to use her worldwide profile and talks openly about mental wellness and the positive impact of therapy, hoping to remove the stigma and help others.
“For so many years to go through everything that I’ve gone through, put on a front, I’m proud of myself, and I’m happy that I can be a leader for the survivors and bring courage to everybody speaking up,” Biles told Today in October 2021. “So I’m happy to be a voice for them.”
Beginning on International Women’s Day (March 8), the Pay With Change initiative will be front and center on SI Swim channels through daily spotlights on the women, brands and properties making a concerted effort to fight for women’s equality.