Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman strips down for ESPN magazine

It sounds like a Jewish mother’s nightmare: A 21-year-old Jewish gymnast agrees to be photographed and filmed fully naked.

Aly Raisman, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, stripped down for ESPN the Magazine’s annual Body Issue, which features photos of top athletes without clothes, but also without revealing everything.

Aly Raisman during ESPN photo shoot photo/jta-youtube

Raisman manages to leave plenty to the imagination as she moves around and strikes poses on the balance beam and the rings. She says her muscular physique is on the bulky end of the spectrum for gymnasts. But you won’t hear her complaining.

“I think imperfection is beauty,” she says. “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.”

Raisman, a native of Needham, Massachusetts, was the captain of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, which won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Just 18 at the time, she individually won gold on the floor and bronze on the balance beam.

In her gold-medal floor routine, Raisman performed to “Hava Nagila,” delighting Jews around the world. She noted that the song had the added advantage of encouraging audience clapping.

 In the ESPN video, Raisman says she is a perfectionist when it comes to her intense training regime. She reports working out up to seven hours a day and maintaining strict habits.

“I’m always eating healthy, always going to bed early,” she says in the interview. “Everything I put into my body is for the purpose of gymnastics.

Still, when it comes to her appearance Raisman refuses to obsess, explaining that she’s never had an eating disorder. “I think gymnastics in the past had a bad reputation for that, but it’s not an issue anymore,” she says. “I’ve never seen an issue among the girls on the national team.”

If Raisman qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, at 22 she will be the oldest member of the team.

Andrew Tobin
Andrew Tobin

JTA Israel correspondent