Confession time: I never thought I’d buy a magazine with a naked man or woman on the cover, but I just bought several, and not just for myself. I’m sharing them with others.
Don’t worry. I’m still the woman who averts her eyes in the gym locker room. It’s just that these covers from ESPN’s Body Issue are more than worth a look, due to their photography and articles that celebrate the diversity of shapes and sizes of the human form.
If I’m in awe of the revealing covers, its the bravery in the interviews that really dazzles me, particularly the feature on USA Track and Field hammer thrower Amanda Bingson, which is a must-read. I think this is my favourite quote from her interview:
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 think it’s important to show that athletes come in all shapes and sizes.
Athletes (and people) really do come in all shapes and sizes.
Look around you at the gym, and you’ll see a range of body types. Don’t assume that big means out of shape and skinny means fit. Let’s stop all the judging and the body-shaming, and take a page from Bingson’s self-love book. Her feature is a reminder that we need to value what our bodies can do (amazing, incredible, miraculous things) and focus less on whether they conform to what society says is athletic or even beautiful.
We need to see more examples of body acceptance, strength, and confidence. Judging by how this photo of Bingson has been blowing up social media, we’re clearly hungry for it.
Photo of Amanda Bingson by Peter Hapak for ESPN