"I totally understand why people are upset about me 'changing,' I get it," she captioned a photo of herself flashing a bright smile. "But if I can promise you one thing, it's that I will never stop changing. Life is all about growing, evolving and becoming more and more yourself, and these last couple years I've done nothing but that!"
As many fans can recall, Maroney was only 16 years old when she competed with the "Fierce Five" at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Four years later, she's matured into an even happier version of herself.
"I've finally gotten myself to the point where I know who I am, and what I want out [of] life, and you can either love me, or hate me for that," the gold medalist, 20, continued. "Either way, I love you, and wish you the best, because to me a real role model is someone who has the courage to be exactly who they are no matter what anyone else thinks."
"And if I can inspire one person to live like that," she wrote in conclusion, "then I've done my job on this planet. #KeepSmiling."
The post was well-received, with many users praising her for her courage and strength to address the negative comments. "People are jealous because you are beautiful inside AND out, AND you are a champion," one fan gushed. "I admire you. And I am happy for you."
Another one of her followers chimed in, writing, "You are amazing. Don't listen to hateful people and continue to be yourself."
The brunette beauty -- who has officially traded in her sparkly bodysuits for acting and singing lessons -- has recently been criticized for her "changing" appearance. After many Instagram users accused her of getting lip fillers, she opened up about her new, grown-up look during an interview with Seventeen magazine.
"First of all, I haven't [had injections]," she confirmed, adding she thinks "it freaks people out to see somebody change just a little bit."
"I don't mean to freak anybody out," Maroney continued. "At the end of the day, I have changed."