In just a few short months, Chloe Kim is poised to reign again at the Winter Games in Beijing. Before hitting the slopes, she sat down with SHAPE for their December issue and opened up about her upcoming Olympic snowboarding encore, the dark side of the spotlight and receiving hundreds of anti-Asian messages each month, and advocating for diversity to reach more young women like herself.
- On the pressures of being an Olympian: “I felt pressured to be perfect all the time, and it drained me. I was genuinely angry for a while because I was so concerned about what everyone else would think about me. It became toxic. That’s when I realized, I need to take better care of myself, and if I don’t want to do something, I can’t force myself to do it. It was very empowering for me, feeling like I finally had more control over my life. Right now I’m in a much better place.”
- On her fellow athletes speaking up about mental health: “I was really proud of Simone Biles, and Naomi Osaka as well, for prioritizing their mental health. I hope that people realize that as athletes and Olympians, we face a lot of pressure. It’s important to slow down, take a step back, and validate your emotions. Respecting yourself is so important.”
- On who she becomes midair on the slopes: “I definitely think I switch mentally,” she says. “I completely tune out, and I become a different person. I’m Chloe Kim, the snowboarder. But when I’m home, I’m Chloe Kim, the Cali girl. There’s a different Chloe when I’m on snow, and I love her. She’s the best.” “I get so excited about things I enjoy, like snowboarding. It almost feels like when you’re a kid and you go to Disneyland—you don’t want to go to the bathroom because you just want to hurry to be there.”
- On the expectation that she should speak out: “In my everyday life, if something bothers me, I have to be really comfortable with a certain person to share my discomfort. So you could imagine how I felt when everyone was pressuring me to do it on social media.”
- On working with Alex Morgan, Sue Bird, and Simone Manuel to give women’s sports their due: “Growing up, I didn’t have anyone in the Asian American community to look up to in my sport,” she says. “It’s cool that we’re solving that problem and advocating for diversity so we can reach more young women like me.”
The December issue of Shape magazine is available for purchase on November 12th.
[Photo Credit: Djeneba Aduayom/Shape Magazine]
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