Shawn Johnson seems like she has everything going for her, but even someone considered "America's most-liked sports figure" battles self-esteem and weight issues.
The Olympic gold medalist and winner of the popular "Dancing With the Stars" TV show admitted recently that she was hurt by criticism about her weight.
"At my heaviest all the tabloids said some pretty hurtful things," Johnson said at an Olympics media summit on Monday.
"That whole process kind of broke me down and taught me something. People put too much emphasis on looks."
The 4'9" gymnast has lost 25 pounds since beginning her Olympics comeback (she's hoping to participate in the London Games). She expressed concern over the message the media and other critics send.
"We're taught at such a young age that you can always be better and that you're never perfect and that you're never good enough," she said. "You find your worth in someone else and what they say just from having looked at you. It's hard. I was at the Olympic Games winning medals and I still doubted my image. I doubted what I looked like. That's sad. Girls should be taught different than that. I think everyone should be taught different than that."
It really is unfair when Johnson faces such criticism. At 4'9", she has a smaller frame and very little margin for error when it comes to her weight. People also need to remember that she was only 16 when she became famous at the Beijing Olympics. Bodies evolve as people get older; it's no different for Johnson.
What's also interesting is that she's not the first Olympian who has voiced concerns of this nature recently.
- Shawn Johnson