The name Lindsey Vonn brings a lot of words to mind.
Athlete. Olympian. Record breaker. Champion. Role model. Vonn has never been one to shy away from a challenge and is a prime example of persistence. Though she’s experienced her share of setbacks and injuries during her career as a professional alpine ski racer, Vonn has always done her best to stay focused on her goals. Along with women like Misty Copeland and Gisele Bundchen, Vonn is a spokesperson for the brand Under Armour and is involved in the company’s I Will What I Want campaign aimed at empowering female athletes and athletic females at every level. During the Under Armour Bra Launch at Body by Simone last week, Vonn spoke with Lady Clever while helping Under Armour introduce their newest sports bra collection, appropriately named the Armour Bra Collection. She got real with us about how she stays focused on her goals, why body shaming female athletes isn’t cool, and the responsibilities that come with being a role model.
How did you get involved in the I Will What I Want campaign?
I’ve been with Under Armour for about ten years, so it’s been a long partnership. They’re always on the front end of innovation so I’m really psyched that they’re putting more effort into women in sports — and just women in general — being strong and powerful, and the new bra line is incredible. I’m really, really excited about it. I definitely think it’s the first of its kind, so I’m excited to see what people think about it.
Have you ever experienced criticism as a female athlete for being “too fit” or “too in shape?” I ask because everyone seems to be talking about the body shaming controversy around another well-known female athlete, tennis player Serena Williams.
I’ve gotten… yeah. I’ve definitely gotten a lot of criticism over the years. I’ve had a couple of pretty dominant seasons like Serena, and everyone looks for something to criticize you on. People said I was too big — [that] I was “heavier-set” — and that’s why I was winning all the races and the other girls weren’t. I don’t know. I just think it’s an easy target for people to attack and I think the most important thing is just being confident in yourself. Clearly Serena doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, and neither do I. We’re strong and powerful, and I think that’s the most beautiful part — having the confidence in yourself.
Do those kinds of criticisms get inside your head at all when you have to prepare for an event? I would imagine it’s such a mental thing.
Yeah, of course. I mean, I think that when you’re in your sport you’re focused on what you’re doing and trying to win and not focused on what you look like. But I think it’s more so outside of sports [where] it affects you and, you know, going to fashion events and stuff like that where everyone weighs literally 100 lbs. less than you is a little bit frustrating. It can kinda — it can definitely get you down if you know aren’t confident in yourself, but I think at the end of the day, like I said, you just have to believe in who you are and not let those things get to you.
You’ve had some injuries and setbacks professionally; can you give our readers some tips on how you’ve overcome those obstacles?
I’m a really goal-oriented person, so when I had both my injuries, I set different goals — the Olympics being one of them. I obviously didn’t make those, and I got re-injured, but I just wanted to come back because I love my sport so much. It was mainly focusing on the good — focusing on what’s to come and just working everyday to get to that point.
Do you see yourself as a role model to young girls? Does that influence the way you live your life on a daily basis?
Yeah. I hope to be a role model to girls. I started my own foundation in February, The Lindsey Vonn Foundation, with the goal to empower young women, and I take the “role” of role model very seriously. It’s something where one brief two-minute conversation with a girl can have a very positive or negative impact. I don’t think I change the way I live around that fact, but I’m definitely very conscious how it could be perceived to young women, and I do my best to always set a good example.
One thing’s clear: Vonn is a gold-medal example to us!