Gymnastics star and U.S. Olympic medalist Simone Biles went viral this week after she appeared on the cover of Glamour magazine wearing a red, white and blue braid ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Glamour chose Biles, who has a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals and is considered by many to be the greatest gymnast of all time, as the cover star for its June issue.
The cover image and other photos included in the profile on the athlete were shot by photographer Kennedi Carter, who told USA Today Sports in an interview published Saturday that she wanted "to do something that would reference the aesthetic of America, but not have her literally dressed in an American flag."
In the photos, the 24-year-old gymnast wears elegant dresses while and a braid laced with red, white and blue ribbon that runs down to the floor.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Our June Cover Star, @Simone_Biles.— Glamour (@glamourmag) June 15, 2021
25 World Championship medals. Four never-before-been-done moves named after her. One gravity-defying legacy. Simone Biles is without a doubt the world’s greatest gymnast in history. https://t.co/0TIIZrnkDW pic.twitter.com/pvhGpkBTRR
Carter told USA Today, "Patriotism has many different looks."
"I wanted to show that patriotism isn't just about a flag, but other things," she added.
Columnist and USA Today Sports race and inequality editor Mike Freeman said in the Saturday piece that the shoot was “unique” in that “Black women are increasingly appearing on mainstream magazine covers after years of effectively being ignored.”
“It's still rare for Black women to grace them and even rarer to have a Black woman like Carter shoot those covers,” he said. “Having a Black woman on the cover of Glamour, photographed by another Black woman, isn't unprecedented in mainstream magazine history, but it's still unicorn territory and historical.”
Social media users tweeted praise for Biles after the photos were released, with the Olympic champion herself retweeting a post from one user who wrote, “THE BLACK GIRL MAGIC SHINING THROUGH & HER SMILE.”
The magazine cover comes after Biles earlier this month earned her seventh U.S. title by winning the women’s all-around competition at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
Biles is considered one of the favorites going into next week’s Olympic trials in St. Louis. Four athletes will be selected following the event to compete for the U.S. women’s national gymnastics team, with a fifth athlete competing in Tokyo as an individual.