The ancient Olympic games were conducted in the buff. Athletes competed in the nude, sin ropa, naked, au naturel, starkers. Personally, I think the modern games missed a golden opportunity when it decided to do away with naked competition. Fortunately, for those of us who would like a peek at some of the bodies that will be competing in London this summer, and a few who won’t, ESPN: The Magazine is here for us.
The magazine’s fourth annual The Body Issue will hit newsstands July 13. What’s that, you say you are unfamiliar with The Body Issue? Well perhaps you have heard of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. I see you nodding your head. Good. If the Swimsuit Issue is the semi-hot, older mom on the block who desperately wants to be cool and relevant, (think Regina George’s mom in Mean Girls) The Body Issue is that spunky, tough, and intimidatingly awesome girl at school who doesn’t seem to give a crap. The Body Issue is hot, but not in an obvious way. OK, who am I kidding? It has naked ladies in it.
Got your attention now, don’t I? The Body Issue is filled with pictures of athletes, real athletes not models, in their birthday suits. It features athletes of all shapes and sizes and from a huge range of sports. I love it because, besides the nakedness, it celebrates athletes by showing us what years of hard work looks like and what kind of strength different sports require. The athletes have spent their lives training and sacrificing to become the best in their sports and they look damn fine under their uniforms. The magazine celebrates athletics bodies, bodies capable of accomplishing amazing things on the field or court, and dear me, is it full of beautiful pictures.
When I first saw the list I was most excited about the inclusion of basketball stud (and mom) Candace Parker and soccer stud Abby Wambach. Both women gave interviews about why they chose to be part of the issue and how they think of their bodies. It’s refreshing to have women in a magazine talking about their body as an instrument they use to compete at the highest level of sport and not as something with problems that they need to fix. These women are strong and they aren’t apologizing for it.
Other women who bare all for the magazine: Mixed martial artist (and cover girl) Ronda Rousey, tennis player Daniela Hantuchova, paralympic rower Oksana Masters, sailor Anna Tunnicliffe and the entire U.S. women’s volleyball team.
Who are you excited to see without a stich on? Who would you like to see in the buff for next year’s issue?