I just got done talking with Nastia Liukin, the 2008 all-round
gymnastics gold medal winner who is in Chicago this weekend
promoting a new clothing line. Supergirl
by Nastia is a comfortable, modest and affordable
collection aimed at the preteen set and infused with a message of
empowerment and strength. (Read our interview here).
This was a fun interview for me. I should start by saying that
I'm a huge gymnastics fan. My own career was tragically short -- it
lasted about six weeks back in 1989, followed by equally short
stretches in Girl Scouts, ballet and ice skating -- but I've stayed
When I interview people I'm personally impressed with, I usually
manage to stay professional. But I may have slipped a little on
this one. And by slipped, I mean I actually said "I'm a huge fan."
And then, promptly followed that with: "I saw you on 'Gossip
Girl.'" Add an "OMG" and I basically posted on her Facebook
wall. One of my finer moments as a reporter, to be sure.
But here's the thing: I am a big fan, and an even
bigger fan after our chat. Nastia was gracious, well-spoken and
earnest about her goals with the Supergirl line: to
empower young girls.
"My experiences and my accomplishments all started with a dream
-- to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal -- and I want them to
realize that that's how all big things start, with a dream. I want
them to feel like they can do anything."
It's nice to be reminded every now and then that there are still
plenty of good role models out there for young girls, some of whom
are actively working to reach them. (On that note, Nastia will be
meeting fans and signing autographs at the Woodfield Mall on
Saturday from 2-3:30 p.m.)
New York Times' columnist Gail Collins touched on this topic last week, remarking in
the wake of Chelsea Clinton's wedding that the Clinton and Bush
families had both managed to raise pretty terrific, well-adjusted
and generous kids doing good work. Nastia's path to celebrity was
different, and I won't pretend that launching a girls' clothing
line is in the same vein as working for UNICEF or at an AIDS hospital in South Africa. But role models
come in all shapes and sizes and anyone using their influence to
help people is okay in my book.
During our chat, Nastia talked about the influences behind her
I feel like boys have always had Superman and Batman and all
these superheroes, but girls haven't really had that one superhero
to relate to, to look at and think, 'I'm inspired by this.'
I think they've found one. Well done, Nastia.
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