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10 Naked World Class Athletes Dish On Body Image & Feeling Awesome In Your Own Skin [PHOTOS]

One size doesn’t fit all.

Want a little explosive inspiration to light up your week? Look no further than the lineup of world class athletes gracing the pages—completely au naturel—of the 2015 ESPN Body Issue.

From bonafide, mainstream superstars like Odell Beckham Jr. and Bryce Harper to Olympic champions like Natalie Coughlin and Aly Raisman, it’s amazing to see athletes of all shapes, sizes, and body types DOMINATE their respective sports; and get an all-access glimpse at the physiques and mindsets that drive their success.

It’s pure, unadulterated inspiration. And it might just help you learn to LOVE your body for all of its peculiarities and feel a little bit more comfortable in your own skin.

We’ve pulled out and featured 10 of our favorite snippets from the edition. Interested in the entire thing? Check out ESPN’s Body Issue page, or pick up the full edition at any newsstand.




 

1. Natalie Coughlin, 32, USA Swimming


Image: ESPN

Measureables: 5’8″, 141 LBs

I was turning 30 and married going into the 2012 Olympics, so everyone assumed I would retire, have babies and disappear. There are teammates on the male side that don’t get those questions. I just find it interesting that people so openly are like, “Yeah, this is obviously what you’re going to do, right?” Maybe eventually, in my own time. But I’ve taken really good care of my body to allow me to still compete at a very high level. And I really love competing; I love being an athlete. I’m just enjoying the ride.

Swimming is one of the sports where a lot of people suffer from body image issues. 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.

I’m self-conscious about my arms. It’s really hard to find a dress that’s a size 10 in the lats but a size 4 in the waist. But I want to be as successful as I can; if that means having big arms, I’ll take big arms.

 

2. Brittney Griner, 24, WNBA


Image: ESPN.com

Measureables: 6’8″, 205 LBs

I’d describe myself as athletically lanky. I want to show people that. I’m comfortable in my body and I don’t mind putting it on display. Honestly, I like how unique it is. My big arms, my bigger hands, these long legs-I love being different. If everybody was the same, it’d be a boring-ass world.

I’m sure people are going to have a lot of critical things to say [about these photos]. “Yo, she’s a man!” But hey, that’s my body and I look the way I look. People are either going to accept me for who I am or they’re not.

 

3. Odell Beckham Jr., 22, NFL


Image: ESPN.com

Measureables: 5’11”, 198 LBs

Sometimes I have too much confidence in my body. Like, “I’m good; I don’t need to do this today.” That’s the reason I pulled my hamstring last year. I had been going since 3 years old, never any breaks — even summers I’m working out. That injury was long overdue. It wasn’t like I was doing anything other than normal, it was just like my body had been so overworked already.

 

4. Amanda Bingson, 25, USA Hammer Thrower


Image: ESPN.com

Measureables: 5’5″, 210 LBs

Dense would be the right word for me. 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.

I’ll be honest, I like everything about my body. And I think it’s because I moved from Las Vegas to Texas. In Vegas, I was bombarded with all of these “double zeros” and Abercrombie models…I never wanted to be a part of that, ever. 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 just 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.”

You might be prettier and skinnier than me, but I’ll kick your ass in a game of one-on-one.

 

5. Chantae McMillan, 27, USA Heptathlete


Image: ESPN.com

Measureables: 5’8″, 152 LBs

I don’t look in the mirror and think “slim”; I look in the mirror and I’m like, “Whoa, beast!” It’s just crazy how much the body changes. Looking in the mirror I get surprised like every other week. It’s like I’m Wonder Woman.

Sometimes I’d worry about my scars being too visible. But at this point in my life, I understand that they show where I came from, so I embrace them. A lot of them are just from being the kid that I was, but now I have a big knee scar from throwing out my patellar tendon in 2011 — it shows what I got through to get to the 2012 Olympic trials.

 

6. Aly Raisman, 21, USA Gymnastics


Image: ESPN.com

Measureables: 5’2″, 115 LBs

We train our whole lives for that one moment. You work your whole life for a minute-and-a-half beam routine. I work out six days, 32 hours a week for the dream of competing at the Olympics again. I’m always eating healthy, always going to bed early. Everything I put into my body is for the purpose of gymnastics.

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.

 

7. DeAndre Jordan, 26, NBA


Image: ESPN.com

Measureables: 6’11”, 265 LBs

I asked my mom, “Why am I so much taller than everybody else?” But after a while you embrace being different, being something a lot of people aren’t. It’s fun.

Oh, man, I was a stick in high school. I had a bird chest; I got called that a lot: “Bird chest.” But I’ve always been comfortable with my body, even when I was super skinny.

 

8. Todd Clever, 32, USA Rugby


Image: ESPN.com

Measureables: 6’4″, 228 LBs

My body is No. 1 for me. I put a lot into it both on and off the field, making sure I get enough sleep, making sure I get enough nutrients, making sure I challenge myself in the gym and on the field so I can play at the level I want to play at. I’ve never been the biggest guy or the fastest or anything like that. The thing that has really set myself apart is the work rate — doing extras so that I’m fitter than the guy across from me.

 

9. Ali Krieger, 30, USA Soccer


Image: ESPN.com

Measureables: 5’6″, 138 LBs

Everyone makes fun of my calves. They are so big. I don’t really even like them, I don’t really want them as big as they are, but I have no choice. In college, girls would come up to me: “I want your calves.” It just makes me laugh. I guess people pay a lot of money to have the types of bodies athletes have.

My thighs too; I feel like I have big thighs. My brother was always like, “Yeah, I want big thighs! Big thighs are awesome!” And I’m like, “Yeah, for a man!” But I’ve trained since I was 6 years old to play soccer, and this is just the type of body I have. I’m proud of my thighs because they’ve gotten me to where I am today and give me the power that I have to play my best.

 

10. Paige Selenski, 25, USA Field Hockey


Image: ESPN.com

Measureables: 5’7″, 141

It’s not like I woke up one day and I had a really athletic body and ripped-up abs. I was lucky that I was naturally gifted with an athletic body, but I also put a lot of work into it. I don’t stay home and do abs all day long; it just comes with running and all the things I do to stay in shape. I use my body every day for my job. We constantly put our bodies through pain. I’m not afraid to show that off.

Sometimes I look down and think, “Ugh, my quads are not proportional to the rest of my body.” They are very muscular. But I can squat a lot. Sometimes we rep close to 100 kilos [220 pounds], which is pretty crazy.





Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Owner & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
Bryan DiSanto is the Owner & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a culinary student at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, an ACE-CPT & CSN, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness/nutrition nutjob.

He also contributes to Men's Health Magazine.

When he’s not working on his (or somebody else’s) abs, whipping up Eggocados, or running a Tough Mudder, he’s probably off yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.
Bryan DiSanto
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