12 gorgeous Olympic images prove that strength is beauty (PHOTOS)

The athletes in this year’s games demonstrate that athletic prowess, a strong body, and determination are the new definition of beautiful.

USA's Katie Ledecky competes to break the Olympic record at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the Women's 400m Freestyle. Francois-Xavier Marit | AFP | Getty Images

While browsing Facebook the other day, I came across an article from Harper’s Bazaar titled “The Most Beautiful Olympians Ever.” Splashed across my feed was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, conventionally attractive woman. While she was of course, beautiful, as all women are, I was disappointed to see that even during the most exalted athletic competition on earth, female athletes are reduced to a competition of who is more “beautiful”—as if such a thing can be objectively judged in the first place. And as if such a judgement matters at the Olympics, which, after all, is about ability.

I’m a mom of three daughters, and we have been watching the Olympics as a family this year, proud to see the wide range of women represented in the Games. My girls are part of a generation of women who are seeing, some for the first time, the truth about what it means to be strong and beautiful women. My daughters have seen female athletes tackle the course during our favorite “Ninja Warrior” show, they have watched gymnasts of every shape and color tumble across the floor, and they have even watched as their own mother, back fat and all, crossed the finish line of her first half-marathon.

The point is, the real beauty of women lies in our strength—and this year there are plenty of Olympic athletes who prove that strength is always beautiful.

Aly Raisman. Despite the fact that she is a little under teammate Bile’s shadow, Raisman never lost faith in herself. She says she “knew” she would medal in Rio and that confidence earned her a silver medal in the individual all-around, and a silver in the floor exercise. Ezra Shaw | Getty Images
DeAnna Price. An athlete on the U.S. women’s hammer throwing team, Price has overcome serious challenges to compete, including performing with only one kidney and working against her own struggles with body image. “I’m really just hoping to inspire younger generations to let them know it’s OK to be strong, it’s OK to be bigger,” Price said. Alexander Hassenstein | Getty Images
Doaa Elghobashy. Also sporting a hijab is Egyptian beach volleyball player Doaa Elghobashy. She has said that her hijab “won’t keep her” from doing what she loves to do best. Lucas Oleniuk | Toronto Star via Getty Images
Katie Ledecky. At only 19-years-old, Ledecky has made history as one of the world’s greatest swimmers. She holds five gold medals and three world records for swimming. Francois-Xavier Marit| AFP | Getty Images
Gabby Douglas. Douglas is the first black gymnast to win an all-around medal and has kept her cool under some pretty intense scrutiny about her appearance and behavior during the games. But through it all, Douglas has reminded us all that she’s there for one reason and one reason only: to be a good gymnast. Ben Stansall | AFP | Getty Images
Ibtihaj Muhammad. Muhammad is the first Muslim-American woman to compete wearing a hijab. A U.S. fencer, she took home a bronze medal from Rio this year. Vaughn Ridley | Getty Images
Keri Walsh Jennings. Olympic volleyballer and 38-year-old mom of three stands at 6’2″ looking stronger than anyone else on the court. She won a bronze medal this year at Rio with her teammate, April Ross. And although she noted that they “lost” the gold, they still won that bronze medal proudly. Ezra Shaw | Getty Images
Laurie Hernandez. Hernandez won hearts around the world, along with her team gold medal and individual silver on the beam this summer. She’s also the first Hispanic athlete born in the U.S. to be on the gymnastics team since 1984. Lars Baron | Getty Images
Rafaela Silva. Her last name may sound like “silver,” but Silva is a gold-medal Olympian in women’s Judo. She actually is a Rio native who trained at a community training center only a few miles from where she won her gold medal. David Ramos | Getty Images
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Pryce is an inspirational athlete hailing from the ghettos of Jamaica. She’s considered by some track and field experts to be the greatest female sprinter ever. Ian Walton | Getty Images
Simone Biles. I’m not sure Biles even needs a description at this point. This young gymnast emulates strength as beauty in so many ways, from her openness about her faith, her adoptive family, and her straight-up confidence in not letting the media describe her as anything but the “first Simone Biles.” Alex Livesey | Getty Images
Simone Manuel. Manuel is the first African-American woman to win a gold medal an individual event in Olympic swimming. She won both two gold medals, one in the 100m freestyle, and one silver medal in Rio. Richard Heathcote | Getty Images

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Chaunie Brusie
Chaunie Brusie

Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer. She’s the author of “Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Reclaiming Your Life, and Moving Forward in an Unplanned Pregnancy,” and a mom of four who lives in Michigan. Find her at tinybluelines.com.

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