One year after taking home the gold for the balance beam at the 2008 Olympics, gymnast Shawn Johnson celebrated another major win: she and her partner Mark Ballas were crowned the winners of Dancing with the Stars.
And while most would think the 4-foot-9 starlet would be on top of the world with all her achievements, the exact opposite was happening. With the positive media attention came the negative — and most it was surrounding her weight.
"That whole process kind of broke me down and taught me something," Johnson told USA Today at the Olympic Media Summit held in Dallas Monday. "People put too much emphasis on looks. I was always on top. I wasn't used to being the critic's choice."
Today the pint-sized athlete, 20, is 25 pounds lighter than she was three years ago and is gunning for a chance to compete in London this summer at the 2012 Olympics.
After stepping out of the spotlight for three years, the Iowa native has more than physical strength to bring to the table this year — she has mental toughness now, too.
"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."
Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!