Lindsey Vonn is finally in a place where she's "comfortable" with her body, but it took her a while to get there.
In Tuesday's episode of TB12's The Keep Going Podcast, the retired skier, 36, opened up about her body image struggles, which began after she was thrust into the spotlight after winning gold at the Olympics in 2010.
"While it may seem like I've always been comfortable with who I am, I definitely have not always felt that," Vonn told podcast host and TB12 CEO John Burn. "I had a hard time after I won the Olympics because I was taken outside my ski bubble and put in this entertainment and celebrity bubble and around people that were half my size."
"I was like, 'Am I supposed to look like this?' " she recalled thinking. "I had never compared myself really to others."
However, the three-time Olympic medalist says she's recently learned to embrace her body.
"I had a really hard time with it but in the last couple years I've figured it out," she said. "I am who I am. I feel like I've never conformed my personality or my style but for positive body image, I definitely struggled with that."
"I have cellulite, I have stretch marks. I work out every single day and I still have all those things and they're not going away," she added. "So it's like, this is me, take it or leave it."
As for what advice she has for parents of young girls who may be struggling with their own body image, Vonn says it's important to try "to get them to believe in themselves and embrace their uniqueness."
"Sometimes that's the hardest thing to do in life, be confident in who you are," she added, emphasizing the importance of "just encouraging them to be who they are."
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Vonn recently opened up about the body shaming she endured throughout her career, and how the critical comments have continued into her retirement.
"A lot of people have said, 'You shouldn't wear things like that. It doesn't look good on your body type.' Or 'You're too muscular for that,' " Vonn told the New York Post's Alexa magazine last month.
Now, since retiring from competitive skiing in 2019, her body has changed — and Vonn says she's started getting different types of comments.
"I'm a lot leaner," she said. "I used to do things that were so sport specific, so I had to be bigger. But everyone is like, 'Oh my God, you're in the best shape of your life.' It's like — yes and no. I'm not training for my sport anymore, I am training to be lean and fit."
The former athlete previously opened up to PEOPLE about feeling like she's "finally in a really confident and happy place" with her body.
"The pandemic taught me to love myself," she said last November "It also taught me that we need to love each other. There's so much hate in the world, and we need to support each other. Who cares if you have cellulite or you have wrinkles?"
"You don't need hair extensions or Botox or injections, just be yourself. With my dogs, they love me no matter what, and that's how we should treat other humans," she added. "That's just how I see it."
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