Brittney Griner and Ali Krieger bare all in ESPN the magazine’s Body Issue

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Every year, ESPN the magazine‘s publishes the Body Issue, where some of the world’s greatest athletes pose in the buff and talk about the skin they’re in. The new issue, out on stands July 10, includes two out athletes: WNBA star Brittney Griner and World Cup-winning soccer player Ali Krieger.

brittney-griner

Brittney talks with out sports journalist Kate Fagan about feeling comfortable in the nude, and defying gender stereotypes.

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. I don’t know what people think I’m hiding. I’ve heard, “Oh, she’s not a female, she’s a male.” I’ve been told, “Oh, she’s tucking stuff.” They thought I was tucking. I mean, [in the Body Issue] it’s out there. Let me show that I embrace the flatness! I just want people to see somebody who embraces being naked, embraces everything about them being different.

 

I got called a boy all the time. Going into the bathroom, I still get the shocked look, like, “Are you supposed to be in here?” But I’m so used to it now, I’m just like, “I’m a girl, I’m in the right bathroom.” In China, it happens all the time! One time when I went into the bathroom there, a lady was so shocked that she was pushing me out; she was so hysterically shocked that I was in there. I couldn’t do anything but laugh. I didn’t even try to defend myself and tell her I was a girl. I ended up just going over to the men’s room and went into one of the stalls. I’ve even had to do that in the States a couple of times.

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. I mean, sometimes I’m feminine, sometimes I’m emotional. And then sometimes-you see me on the court, and I’m hard-core, and then how I dress is masculine. If I put on something “girlie,” I feel very uncomfortable. It feels like something I shouldn’t be wearing. I wore a dress for my high school graduation and it sucked. My mom wanted me to wear a dress so bad. I forced a smile in a couple of photos for her, but I was the most absolute uncomfortable person.

ali-kriegerphotos from ESPN The Magazine

USWNT’s defender Ali Kreiger discusses her powerful legs, which we’ve all be in awe over for the last month.

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.

I think my confidence came when I turned 30. I don’t know, something about turning 30 has been unbelievable. I just feel a sense of freedom. My 20s were really tough, just traveling and living in different countries and doing all these things, and now I feel like I know what I want and know really what my goals and dreams are and what I want from my life.

Check out the full interviews and video on ESPN’s website.