Too old. Too tall. Too muscular. Not enough definition.
Too fat. Too short. Not muscular enough.
Society’s narrow-minded view on beauty is one that is all too familiar and spreads to athletes and non-athletes, men and women, alike.
ESPN’s Body Issue, seeking to highlight the athlete human form in its 10-year anniversary issue, did just that. Not only did the 2018 edition feature the first openly gay couple on the cover, it filled the publication with the bodies of athletes who embrace their bodies, despite being considered “unconventional” by society’s limited definitions of beauty.
Seattle Storm star Sue Bird said that she and girlfriend Megan Rapinoe being the first same-sex couple featured on the cover goes beyond the Body Issue. “There was a real message there and I was definitely proud to be apart of that,” Bird said.
For Bird’s teammate and fellow Storm star, Breanna Stewart, it was a way to show the world that she embraces and understands her body. In her interview for the magazine, Stewart commented, “I have a story, and I hope people can see that.”
Throughout the 10-year publication, several WNBA stars have graced the pages of the Body Issue’s pages. Candace Parker, an alum of Body Issue 2012, reflected that the issue is a way to celebrate all the different bodies that athletes have, that play different sports, explaining that she did the issue because she had just had her daughter and wanted to show the world that “women can do it all. We can create life and come back and dominate a sport.”
Nneka Ogwumike, who was in the magazine’s 2017 edition, said the experience was “immersive and exposing, but in a very good way.”
Hopefully, the Body Issue will continue to forge uncharted territory in years to come, broadening the view society has on beauty, one athlete and body at a time.