Allyson Felix on How Motherhood Made Her an Activist

Allyson Felix, one of the most famous track athletes in history, is Allyson Felix. After winning two Olympic medals in Tokyo, Felix retired from the Olympic competition. But off the track, she’s made her mark as an advocate for maternal health and women’s empowerment. Just weeks before the Games, she launched her own women’s lifestyle brand, Saysh, and wore the new company’s shoes during competition.

Saysh is known for her generous parental leave policies. Felix was 32 weeks premature when her daughter was born in 2018. She spoke out against the limited options available to mothers of children in America and New York. TimesIn an op-ed, she claimed her sponsor Nike wanted her to be paid 70% less when she had her child.
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Among TIME’s honorees for the magazine’s inaugural Women of the Year issue, Felix spoke at an event celebrating International Women’s Day about what she hoped would have changed for maternal health by the time her child is grown.

“For me it was terrifying and isolating. It was really dark,” she told TIME’s Alice Park of giving birth. “So I hope that her experience is everything but that.”

Learn MoreAllyson Felix, Olympic Champion brings her famous focus to a new challenge

Felix became more open to talking with other women who were having difficult births and realized it was crucial to help these women feel less alone.

“I think we’re really seeing women of color, our pain is not believed,” she said at the event. “We have to advocate for our own health. There’s so much implicit bias in the medical field. We need to change that and listen to and believe women.”

She continued: “I feel so fortunate I was able to walk out the hospital with my family and that’s not the case for so many women. What’s heartbreaking is so many of these deaths are preventable.”
Felix discovered that motherhood is not always easy when you have a track career with record breaking records.
When I did come back to competing, I found it was really difficult to travel the world with a newborn,” she said. “I remember competing in World Championships. My daughter was 18 months. The national team was my daughter.A roommate was offered to me. It was a blessing that I had the ability to provide support and assistance. But I thought about all the women competing at the top level who weren’t able to do that. So we created a fund for all the women who believe their best performances come after they’re a mother.”

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