I first learned the word "fat" when I was in middle school. I never knew that I was the fat kid in school until a boy told me that I was too fat. I thought, "What does that mean?" I had always been so athletic and into sports; I didn't think I was that fat. But everybody wants to fit that skinny ideal picture that we see on billboards all the time, and people would always remind me that that wasn't me. So you just grow a thick skin. Like I said, I'll still whip your ass if we ever got into a fight. #BodyIssue
Amanda Bingson, 2016 Olympian, on her Facebook Page
Amanda Bingson's name might not be known to all, but just in time for Brazil's 2016 Olympic games, the hammer thrower will definitely catch your eye. Why? The Rubenesque, curly-haired, curvaceous Olympian is one of six athletes gracing the regional covers of the 2015 ESPN Body Issue.
As she posted on Facebook:
Athletes come in all shapes and sizes and I am proud to announce that I am one of the covers of ESPN the Magazine's 2015 edition of The#Body Issue. I am honored to represent for Track & Field and the Hammer Throw.
Bingson has a good point.
Among the other athletes in ESPN #BodyIssue include husband and wife stars Gabrielle Reece, 45 (volleyball) and Laird Hamilton, 51 (surfing), who appear to be representing athletes over 40, providing hope for all of us that we, too, can grow old as gracefully as they have.
This year, 24 athletes stripped down and bared it all, (tastefully, according to an ESPN press release). They include NBA superstar Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, gold medal Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., and Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin, newly crowned Women's World Cup star Ali Krieger, embattled WNBA star Brittney Griner, MLB'a Bryce Harper, the NHL's Tyler Seguin, and the NFL's Odell Beckham, Jr.
If we must have athletes in the nude, (and this one is here to stay, like it or not,) at least this one provides males with an equal opportunity to take off their clothes and pose in 'artful' shots.
I'll take equal over most other equations.
Speaking of equality...just days after filing for divorce from her wife of 28 days, a pregnant Glory Johnson, Griner discussed her long-debated gender identity with Kate Fagan of ESPNW
I don't like labels. But [gender roles] are instilled in you as a kid. I was told to pick which one I wanted to be-masculine or feminine. I'm like, well, I kind of want to be both, because that's who I am."
Having interviewed Griner several times when the Phoenix Mercury's come to town to play the Chicago Sky, I thought she did indeed have a choice to make at some point. Griner, by appearance and voice alone, truly defies definition as either gender.
But, as the pictures show, she is as God made her. Perhaps she's here on Earth to remind people that God made us all unique, yet still in his (or her) image?
In fact, perhaps that's the underlying message of each of these athletes. Despite their many differences in body fat and muscle mass, they are all united by two common themes: 1) Their excellence at their sport. 2) Their willingness to go bare-assed naked for millions of eyes to behold.
That takes courage. Especially, living with whatever consequences their lives hand out as a result. Courage, indeed!
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