Winning Look

Jordan Chiles Is Flying High

As she competes for a spot at the Paris Olympics, the effervescent gymnast chats about breaking the mold, blocking out negativity, and her vision for the future.

Written by Baze Mpinja

At the recent U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Jordan Chiles’ mother, Gina, sat in the stands cheering on her daughter. She wore a black sweatshirt that read, “Jordan Chiles Is That Girl.” The bold declaration was either a public service announcement or a reminder, depending on how closely you’ve been paying attention to gymnastics lately. At a media event in February, Chiles revealed her motto for 2024: “I’m that girl.” As evidenced by her mother’s sartorial choices, this is not up for debate.

Anyone even thinking about arguing against her would have a tough time proving their case. During the run-up to the Olympics, which kicked off at the Core Hydration Classic in May, Chiles finished third overall. She turned in another solid performance at the Championships in Texas, landing in fifth place. But it wasn’t just her performance that showcased her That Girl state of mind. Chiles flipped, leaped, twisted, and performed all the insane physical feats gymnasts are known for while sporting Beyoncé-inspired leotards that dazzled spectators and left the internet gagged (in a good way). If 23-year-old Chiles, who competed at the Tokyo Games, makes the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team this summer, she’ll have to wear the same uniform as her teammates. But for now, through her artistry and her style, she’s letting the world know that she was born to stand out.

Chiles tumbled into gymnastics by chance. She had “really bad” ADHD as a child, and her parents were looking for ways to deal with it. “My family was frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t sit still. The only way I could talk to people was if I kept moving really fast,” she says. Her mom and dad got her into sports (T-ball and track) to help harness her energy, but it still wasn’t enough — as she played T-ball in the outfield, she was doing cartwheels and picking dandelions. Her parents decided to enroll her in gymnastics at age 7, and by age 10, it was evident she had a special gift.

I feel like I have the body of an 80-year-old, but my mind is still 18. With my sport, we mature at an early age.

“At age 11, I went elite and I was the youngest national team member,” she says. “Then around 13 years old, I was like, ‘Wait, this could actually [help me realize] my dream of going to the Olympics.” She was right. Chiles and Team USA took home the silver medal in 2021.

When I first meet Chiles on our Zoom call, she’s in a Nike hoodie, with slicked-back hair and none of the glamorous makeup she wears during competitions. I thought she could easily pass for a teenager. That’s why it’s funny that at age 23, she’s considered to be “mature” in her sport. Reconciling her veteran status as an athlete with her youthfulness outside the gym requires a bit of mental gymnastics.

“I always explain to people that being 23 and being a 23-year-old gymnast are two different things,” she says. “I feel like I have the body of an 80-year-old, but my mind is still 18. With my sport, we mature at an early age. Am I mature in the real world? Honestly, I still feel like I’m a little kid.”

Although she may feel childlike on the inside, she’s enjoying leaning into her Role Model Era. “The benefit of being an older gymnast on the team is the leadership aspect of things. I’ve been there, done that and now I’m like ‘How can I help?’ I’ll be that shoulder to cry on, that friend that gives advice,” she says.

At this point in her career, Chiles has a game plan for navigating the pressure, the scrutiny, and the highs and lows that come with the territory, but she wasn’t always so sure of herself. Yes, she was #blessed with an abundance of natural tumbling talent, but Chiles never really fit the mold physically. “I was body-shamed when I was younger. I’m overcoming that trauma,” she says. Whether she’s working to build up her confidence or working on Olympic-worthy routines, the approach is the same. “I make sure I’m taking time for myself, and I do as much as I can with therapy. I just try to do my best,” she says.

Thanks to gymnasts like Chiles and Simone Biles, the gymnastics landscape is more diverse, with all different body types celebrated. Hopefully, this means aspiring gymnasts no longer have to question their place in the sport based on how they look. “The change within gymnastics is a huge thing in terms of being able to understand that not everybody has the same body type, the same hair, or the same skin tone,” she says.


If Chiles is granted the opportunity to represent the United States in Paris, she’ll be hitting the mat with a stronger psyche. “I’ve learned to stop doubting myself,” she says. “In Tokyo, I felt like I had to [accomplish] this, or I have to do that. I felt like there were expectations and [I was afraid] that people were wondering why I was on the team. Going into Paris would be about leaving that behind and just doing me.”

I’ve learned to stop doubting myself. Going into Paris would be about ... just doing me.

Although being an elite gymnast requires crazy level of commitment, Chiles strives to maintain a balance. “The moment I step out of that gym, my brain shuts off and I don’t talk about gymnastics whatsoever,” she says. To unwind, she likes to FaceTime with her family and close friends or indulge in a Netflix binge. Her two puppies, Versace and Chanel, also keep her occupied. “They’re very bougie. They’re like my therapy dogs — they help me a lot,” Chiles says.

Unlike a typical Gen Zer, you won’t catch Chiles scrolling incessantly on her phone. “I am a person who just dislikes social media, like all the way,” she says. That revelation might shock anyone who’s seen her bubbly personality and dance moves shine on TikTok and IG. As a high-profile athlete, she has to play the game, but she doesn’t let online haters (whom she refers to as “bully bots”) snatch away her joy. She blocks out the negativity by reminding herself that her loudest critics can’t hang.

“At the end of the day, you are not flipping on a 4-inch piece of wood. You are not tumbling hard. You’re not swinging your own body weight around and waking up at 5:45 in the morning to get to practice at 7. Like, you go and try to do everything that I’m doing,” she says. “So, I just set the negativity aside and move on with my day.”

Besides, who has the time? Chiles was just announced as one of the gymnasts who’ll compete at the Olympic trials at the end of June. That Girl has plenty of other things to focus on than internet trolls. Her fans will be looking forward to seeing her Trials ’fits and the beauty statement she pairs with them. “I have too much fun with makeup, especially when it comes to competitions,” she says. “If my leo is dramatic, I will wear dramatic makeup. If my leo’s very subtle, then I might do a little subtle moment, but with a pop [of color].”

Once the season comes to an end, Chiles plans to enjoy two well-deserved vacations. “I’m going on a girls’ trip to Cabo then I’m taking a sisters’ trip, but we haven’t decided where to go yet,” she says. “I’m hoping the Dominican Republic.” In the fall, she’s booked for the Gold Over America Tour with Biles and an impressive lineup of fellow gymnastics stars. No matter how many years Chiles has left in the sport, she’ll still be retiring decades before most people leave the working world. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have more dreams to fulfill.

“After gymnastics, I picture myself married with kids,” she says. “I want to be able to wake up and say I’ve accomplished everything in my life. I see myself doing real estate, helping out the community, and looking back on what I’ve done within gymnastics and the culture.”

If everything goes her way, the list of things she’s done will also include standing on the podium in the City of Light.

Photographs by Jana Cantua

Video: Jana Cantua

Photo Director: Alex Pollack

Editor in Chief: Charlotte Owen

SVP Fashion: Tiffany Reid

SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert