Amanda Bingson’s ESPN Body Issue Cover Is What We Need To See More Of In Magazines!

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In 2014, the annual ESPN Body Image issue featured pro baseball player Prince Fielder who caused a huge stir because of his physique which is outside the general norms seen in magazines. It opened up discussions about body image amongst men and the pressure they face to look a certain way.

It was especially empowering to hear this pro athlete talk about his struggles with body image considering he doesn’t have a six pack. Some of the negative comments he and the magazine received regarding his weight were evidence that there is something inherently wrong with our society that we are so used to only seeing a single body type as “beautiful”, “healthy”, or “acceptable”.

Which is why it is SUPER important to see major media publications like ESPN Magazine decide to move the needle a little and have readers get used to seeing a bit of body diversity.

Like elsewhere in the world, the athletic world features a range of body types that should all be celebrated, because the athletes whom these bodies belong to overwhelmingly prove that health and fitness is not a one-size-fits-all ideal.

So when the magazine decided to go 2 for 2 and put US Olympic hammer thrower Amanda Bingson on the 2015 cover, we knew that they are committed to making a change on this issue.

Amanda’s image is inspiring women everywhere to love their bodies for the way they are, and what they can do, rather than just focus on what they look like.

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“I’ll be honest, I like everything about my body. You might be prettier and skinnier than me, but I’ll kick your ass in a game of one-on-one,” said the 25 year old record-holder (she broke the female record in 2013 throwing 248 feet). She credits her confidence coming from moving away from Las Vegas to Texas.

“In Vegas, I was bombarded with all of these “double zeros” and Abercrombie models, these little people coming in for shows. And when I moved to Texas, everyone here is just so open about their bodies. I see these big girls in these tiny little bathing suits and I’m looking at them like, ‘Man, these girls are so confident!’ Now I think, ‘I’m just going to throw far because I’m confident with myself and I don’t have to worry about what I look like anymore’,” she said.

She has confidence to boot now, but it wasn’t always that way, telling ESPN how she learned she was “fat”.

“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,” she shared.

Despite being an athlete in high school, her weight adversely affected her. She was kicked off the school volleyball team for being “too fat”.

“I had been playing volleyball since I was in elementary school, and I was pretty good at it. But my coach told me that unless I lost 30 pounds there was no room for me on the team. I couldn’t lose the weight. I went with my mom to the doctor and we tried to learn all this stuff. I did everything I could and I could not lose it. So she kicked me off. There were other girls who were not as good as I was, but they fit into the uniforms. So that was her rationale. She said unless I lost 30 pounds then I couldn’t be on the team, even though I was pretty good at volleyball,” admitted Amanda.

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Being part of the magazine’s 7th annual Body Issue, featuring a range of athletes completely in the buff is sending an important message to readers that Amanda is glad to be part of.

“Generally when you look at athletes, you see their muscles and all that stuff; I don’t have any of that. My arm is just my arm — it’s not cut, it’s not sculpted. I don’t have traps bulging out to my ears; I have a neck. I don’t have a six-pack. My legs are a little toned, but they aren’t bulging out. I’m just dense. I think it’s important to show that athletes come in all shapes and sizes,” she said.

There are a handful of other badass female athletes (as well as men) featured in the 2015 Body Issue. WNBA star Brittney Griner, golf star Sadena Parks, USWNT soccer star and 2015 World Cup player Ali Krieger, skateboarder Letitica Bufoni, wakeboarder Dallas Friday, field hockey player Paige Selenski, archer Khatuna Lorig (who taught Jennifer Lawrence to shoot in ‘The Hunger Games’), heptathlete Chantae McMillan, beach volleyball player Gabby Reece, swimmer Natalie Coughlin, and gymnast Ali Raisman.

Natalie Coughlin who says many underestimated her ability and expected her to retire at the age of 30 after having a baby, shared that eating disorders are very common in the world of swimming.

“There were a lot of girls around me growing up that suffered full-blown eating disorders, or just the body dysmorphia that every girl feels — especially every girl in a swimsuit. There were times when I wasn’t happy with my body, but I always knew that I was really fit and that it was what allowed me to be successful in the pool,” she said.

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Brittany Griner opens up about body image, gender identity and being bullied for both.

“People are either going to accept me for who I am or they’re not. I just want people to see somebody who embraces being naked, embraces everything about them being different…When I was younger, I definitely got picked on for my size and my voice, which has always been deep. They teased me about everything, my different voice, my stature, my chest,” she said.

“All that teasing stopped when I started playing basketball. I want to tell my younger self, and kids who are going through what I went through: Don’t be scared to reach out and grab some help. Don’t try to fit in-be who you are, express yourself. I definitely want to be remembered as one of the great WNBA defenders, but I also want to be known as a person who helped out kids with being bullied.”

Golfer Sadena parks talks about being a minority in a sport which is dominated by white men, and that she thinks her large butt gives her power in her swing.

“My skin color doesn’t give me a good excuse to say ‘I’m not capable’,” she said after a man once used a racial slur toward her at the age of 13 telling her she couldn’t play golf.

“My dad said, ‘This is the reason we work as hard as we do, because we want to change things. We want to show that, no matter who you are, you should not be treated the way that we were just treated,” she added.

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Gymnast Ali Raisman who claims at 21 she is considered “old” for the sport, shares her idea of beauty.

“I think imperfection is beauty. Instead of being insecure about my muscles, I’ve learned to love them. I don’t even think of it as a flaw anymore because it’s made me into the athlete that I am,” she said.

Beach volleyball player Gabby Reece shares what she learned during her modeling days in New York while also juggling her athletic career.

“In college I was modeling in New York, and I worked with the most beautiful women in the world. They were so beautiful you could barely look at them. And then I would go back to my team at Florida State, and we were all trying to get as big as we could because we wanted to be as strong as possible. And they seemed more confident and happier. I thought: ‘Being perfectly beautiful — or what’s defined by the standards of the world as beautiful — doesn’t actually make you happier’,” she said.

All round this issue is sharing new and forward-thinking ideals of body image, beauty and strength. We hope this trend will continue in the annual Body Issue because diversity is not just a great idea, it is necessary.

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  1. Pingback: How Women's Running Mag Made A Bold Statement About Body Image With This Cover

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