Aly Raisman has used her postgymnastics career to speak up for causes she cares about, especially as it pertains to ending abuse in sports. On March 18, the decorated Olympian launched activewear collection OFFLINE by Aerie x Aly Raisman, and 15 percent of sales will go to Darkness to Light, a nonprofit with the mission of sexual abuse prevention and education for adults.
This is the second full collection that Raisman and Aerie have created to benefit Darkness to Light. The first one in 2019 featured activewear as well and followed an Aerie survivors swimsuit that also benefited the nonprofit a year prior. The 2021 collection is focussed specifically on the comfort of unplugging. Raisman told POPSUGAR that the colours are inspired by her love of gardening and immersing herself in the outdoors. "I'm really into different shades of green right now just because it reminds me of nature," she noted.
Since Raisman spent the majority of her life in leotards, one of the pieces is a floral "leo" (what gymnasts lovingly call leotards for short) that can also function as a bodysuit or swimsuit. Another staple is the crossover leggings that have taken the internet by storm and which Raisman refers to as "V-shaped" at the waist. The collection includes tennis-inspired apparel, sports bras, and scrunchies, too. Plus, in honour of her rescue puppy Mylo, there are bandanas that can even be worn by dogs!
The concept for the collection comes from being brave enough to choose rest, Raisman said. "I think being fierce, for me, is about also being fierce enough to sometimes just say, 'No' and take time for myself," she explained. "I think fierce can also mean, 'Today I'm going to actually take a nap because I feel like I need that. And that's my self-care.'" The clothes can be worn during workouts and running errands, for instance, but they're designed for lounging at home while "offline" as well.
"I feel a major difference, honestly, in my anxiety when I'm able to unplug and not be on my phone," Raisman said. Her favourite activity when she goes offline is tending to her plants, and spending quality time with people — even if that looks different now due to the COVID-19 pandemic — is something she enjoys, too.
"Abuse is such a big issue that I realised I have to also really prioritise taking care of myself because I want to be able to have the stamina to continue to talk about these difficult things."
Since Raisman came forward in 2018 about past abuse from former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar, she has used her platform to help spread awareness regarding sexual abuse in general and in sports particularly, and though every survivor's journey is different, she's seen growth with the assistance of therapy and inner-reflection. "I feel like I'm learning new things, whether it's just about myself personally or just about the world that we're living in."
Raisman has come to two realisations: tending to herself is a priority and being vulnerable is actually welcomed. "Abuse is such a big issue that I realised I have to also really prioritise taking care of myself because I want to be able to have the stamina to continue to talk about these difficult things. So I really prioritise my own mental health," she explained. "I also think sometimes there's a stigma around being vulnerable and being open about what you're going through, but when you're honest with people, people are often super supportive and really kind."
Raisman added, "I think it's just really powerful when people support survivors and give them a platform to share their story."
Ahead, check out a preview of OFFLINE by Aerie x Aly Raisman that dropped on March 18, online and in Aerie stores. You can shop some of the collection ahead as well, so keep scrolling for a look at the gorgeous pieces!