All eyes are on Simone Biles as the 2020 Olympics approach — and the decorated gymnast is partnering with SK-II to ensure it’s all for the right reasons.
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Biles, 22, and the beauty brand this week launched a campaign to put an end to beauty competition. The goal of #NOCOMPETITION is to raise awareness about unnecessary comparisons and judgements, and to inspire women to embrace what beauty means to them — and no one else.
Joining Biles in the campaign are, from left to right, are badminton duo and Olympic gold medalists Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo, table tennis player and two-time Olympic medalist Ishikawa Kasumi, surfer Mahina Maeda, world-record holder swimmer LiuXiang and the members of the Japan Volleyball team.
Biles tells PEOPLE that it’s time we shed more light on this toxic culture of negativity.
“Personally, I feel like it’s something that’s not talked about a lot — especially in the athletic world — and I think it’s a really important conversation to have. And I don’t think I’m the only that feels that way, so partnering with SK-II was neat for me because we get to bring this topic to the surface.”
“The concept is no competition. What does that mean? It’s taking beauty out of the competition what you’re doing, when you’re laying it all out there, has nothing to do with beauty.”
For the gymnast, social media has played “a huge role” in her self-confidence. In a heartfelt Instagram post announcing her partnership this week, Biles opened up about the impact that negative comments have had on her.
“In gymnastics, as in many other professions, there is a growing competition that has nothing to do with performance itself,” she wrote. “I’m talking about beauty. I don’t know why but others feel as though they can define your own beauty based on their standards.”
Biles continues: “I’ve learned to put on a strong front and let most of it slide. But I’d be lying if I told you that what people say about my arms, my legs, my body…of how I look like in a dress, leotard, bathing suit or even in casual pants hasn’t gotten me down at times.”
But now, Biles, who’s long been bullied for the way she looks, is “done” absorbing the hateful words of others. And she hopes by opening up about her experience, she taking a stand against haters, she’ll help others as well.
“I am standing up for myself and for everyone that has gone through the same.”
And for her, the word strength has taken on a new meaning, at least when it comes to beauty: it’s finding your inner strength and what makes you feel beautiful without having anybody else’s opinion.”