Lindsey Vonn Says She's 'Finally in a Confident Place' After Longtime Body Image Struggles

If there's one thing Lindsey Vonn has learned during the coronavirus lockdown, it's to not be so harsh on herself.

The Olympic gold medalist skier, 36, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue, on newsstands now, that after longtime struggles with her body image, she feels like she's "finally in a really confident and happy place."

"The pandemic taught me to love myself," Vonn says. "It also taught me that we need to love each other. There's so much hate in the world, and we need to support each other. Who cares if you have cellulite or you have wrinkles? You don't need hair extensions or Botox or injections, just be yourself. With my dogs, they love me no matter what, and that's how we should treat other humans. That's just how I see it."

That newfound confidence gave Vonn — who hosts Amazon Studios new reality competition series The Pack — the courage to call out her body shamers on social media last month.

"I’ve posted quite a few swimsuit pics lately, which is scarier than it seems. Even as an athlete there are ruthless comments and media stories that tear apart my body and I admit it sometimes hurts me," Vonn wrote on Instagram at the time. Her post included a number of images that celebrated her cellulite — as well as another shot that highlighted some of the hateful comments that had been made about her.

"I’m a normal person and sometimes I slouch, my stomach folds over, my cellulite shows on my butt, or I don’t fill out my swimsuit top just right," she added.

Although people online can be cruel, Vonn said she is grateful for her body.

“I always remember how my body has helped me achieve amazing things in my life and I am proud of how strong I am,” she wrote. “I’m not a size zero and that’s perfectly fine with me.”

"One thing I can promise all of you is that I never Photoshop my photos and am proud to officially never had any plastic surgery of any kind. No Botox, no fillers, no mini surgeries. Literally nothing. I am 100% natural and 100% Lindsey," she concluded her post. "So to anyone who is feeling self conscious or down about their appearance; stay strong, stay healthy and love yourself no matter what the haters say. Special thanks to all of you who have been positive and supportive… lets keep up the culture of body positivity going! ❤️🙏🏻💪🏻"

Von now tells PEOPLE she felt it was important for her to speak out.

"I don't have tolerance for that kind of stuff anymore," she says. "Body image has always been a thing for me, but over the last seven, eight years, I've developed thicker skin. I couldn't block [the haters] out entirely until I loved myself. Now I'm able to stand up for myself and just be unapologetically me."

For all the details on Lindsey Vonn's life and new show, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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