“I’ll be honest, I like everything about my body.” – USA Track & Field hammer thrower Amanda Bingson
ESPN announced it’s Body Issue covers this week, and have six different athletes posing this year: Natalie Coughlin, Bryce Harper, Chantae McMillan, Kevin Love, Odell Beckham, Jr., and Amanda Bingson. If you haven’t heard of Bingson she’s 5’5, 210 pounds, and at 25 years old is more confident than most of us will ever be. And with her brave cover and raw interview she’s sure to inspire many.
She admits to ESPN in her exclusive interview:
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.”
Amanda might not be your typical athlete but she proves an important point, everyone is unique physically, and comparing ourselves to others is fruitless. She looks different than the norm, but she is an incredible athlete that will be competing in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Getting there though hasn’t been easy. She struggled with her weight most of her life and was kicked off her volleyball team because she couldn’t fit into the uniforms.
I never knew that I was the fat kid in school until a boy told me that I was too fat. I thought, “What does that mean?” I had always been so athletic and into sports; I didn’t think I was that fat. But everybody wants to fit that skinny ideal picture that we see on billboards all the time, and people would always remind me that that wasn’t me. So you just grow a thick skin. You might be prettier and skinnier than me, but I’ll kick your ass in a game of one-on-one.
Amanda Bingson is the polar opposite of a lot of women and girls in America. She doesn’t try to conform and try to be what everyone thinks she should be. Instead, she embraces her strengths and is succeeding because she loves and accepts who she is; a strong, tough, determined competitor. She is not just an excellent role model for women everywhere who struggle with body image, but for young girls as well. They need to see this magazine on their coffee table and be reminded that not everyone is a size two, and that’s OK. They need to be exposed to real, un-photoshopped pictures of women and see all of their beautiful flaws.
ESPN nailed this cover and should be commended for breaking the mold with these exquisite photos. But even more inspiring is Bingson’s honest interview where no topic is off limits. One of my favorite quotes is,
And if she does win gold, watch out Rio, because this is how Amanda plans to celebrate:
If I medal in the upcoming Olympics, I’m just going to chug a beer. I’m going to get up on the podium and just go “Stone Cold” Steve Austin on it. I’m working on some things. Everyone will be looking at me like “trashy American.” But at least we’re still No. 1″
I may have to grab a six-pack and join her. Cheers to banishing body shame, now if only we all could be just like her.
Watch my exclusive interview with Amanda here!
Want to read more about Olympic athletes? Read my interview with Brandi Chastain on sports and motherhood! Also check out my new web show Playtime where I interview athletes like Dara Torres about parenting! You can also keep up with mommy in SPORTS on Facebook.
That’s awesome! What a great message she’s sending to girls. There need to be more messages about the fact that healthy doesn’t always equal skinny. Healthy can come in all shapes and sizes.
Such a great article! I admit I’ve fallen into nit picking my own body and the message to just embrace your body shape whatever it is and use it is powerful!! Thanks for sharing this wisdom Kristen.
We all do April whether we mean to or not. The goal is to change our self talk!
Crystal Bissonnette says
This was a great write! I think she is beautiful! If she is happy in her own skin that is all that matters. She possesses more strength and beauty than most!
Sandy Ramsey says
Now THIS is an inspiring athlete! I love everything about her.
Thank you for writing this! I am so happy that they put Amanda on the cover! She is so strong, beautiful and confident!
Susanne/The Dusty Parachute says
What a wonderful role model for girls and example for all of us! I’ll be cheering her on at the Olympics!
Wow– love this so much. It’s important to note that not every athlete is super duper skinny. This is beautiful!!
She really is beautiful!
Oh, that’s cool! I must live under a rock because I hadn’t read about this yet, and of course I don’t know who she is, because I do live under a rock.
I’d say I’d want to know her better, though. I love her quotes.
And she’s quite beautiful – not like it matters, but that quote about how people might be prettier than she is.
I agree with Lauren. People can have different body types, but health is what matters.
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
This is amazing, and powerful, and inspiring. Wow! Just wow!
I hadn’t seen this story yet but I’m so glad you shared it with me first.
Thanks for sharing.
if you don’t love yourself or your body, who will? i hope to raise my children with lots of confidence mixed with some serious humility!!
Janine Huldie says
I have seen so much about this on Facebook trending and just seriously couldn’t agree more with you and that quote is truly my favorite (by the way), too!
Matt C. says
I’m a 55 year old man who works hard to maintain a healthy body. I try to eat well and I exercise regularly. None the less, I look in the mirror every morning and judge myself harshly. I see myself and wish for the body I had when I was in my 20’s. What a waste of time and emotional energy! This article reminds me that the mirror doesn’t define me, I do. Me external self is just skin and bones, like the rest of us. It’s my internal self that truly matters. And I like myself. I’m proud of the man I am. So thank you for sharing this, Kristen. And thanks to Amanda Bingson for reminding me that its OK to be imperfect. It’s OK to just be…me.
YES! Matt I’m the exact same way – I Struggle and see my flaws instead of my beauty. She is such a great role model for us all!
Deidra B. says
Thanks for this post, I was a college athlete and then competed internationally many moons ago so I worked hard for the body I had.
Recently I have found myself comparing my 41yr old body to the one that served me so well on and off the track in my 20’s. Your post reminded me to be grateful for the one I have now that allows me to run up and down the sidelines cheering like a lunatic at my son’s pee wee football games!
So glad to find your blog, will be following for sure!
Deidra I’m in the same boat. I was so fit before my kids, now I struggle to look at my body daily. I even wrote a post once about how my 5 year old was having body issues that mirror my own. It’s such a hard thing to do, but if we don’t love and accept ourselves, who will? I bet you are an awesome cheerleader though!!
Melissa (Wading Through Motherhood) says
She is a great role model because she is strong inside and out. Thanks for sharing these inspirational words.
She really is!
Bailey Gaddis says
WOW! Thats is pure awesomeness! I feel the tides a changin’ 🙂
Jill Ginsberg says
This is one of the first female athletes who I can remember really stepping into the spotlight and owning her body, even when it doesn’t fit societal “ideals” … with total authenticity. I get the sense she REALLY does love her body. So incredibly refreshing. And I can’t imagine a qualified player being kicked off a team for not fitting into the uniform. How absurd! Get the girl a bigger uniform!
Oh how I wish more of us out there were as confident as her! She’s definitely worked hard to earn that confidence, too though. Perhaps that’s the biggest takeaway we can get from her. Everyone deserves to be confident about their mind/body/etc when they’ve worked so hard to get there. Though, I really just want to frame that quote: “You might be prettier and skinnier than me, but I’ll kick your ass in a game of one-on-one.”
I made a point to show her picture and comments to my daughter and to talk about the importance of being comfortable and not having to conform to what you see on television and in magazines.
Wow, I’m so glad they profiled her and that you’re bringing her more attention. So few women’s bodies fit the mold of beautiful. I work near a modeling agency and sometimes I feel like I’m another species, perhaps a Hobbit! Thanks for the reminder and I’ll look forward to seeing her in the Olympics.
We all I think feel like that when we see the skinny mini’s! Thanks for reading! You will love my video interview with her today…
She rocks. There’s no way I could ever get my picture taken for a magazine cover….especially with my clothes off! I have a hard enough time taking selfies with my kids hahaha! Working on keeping that same mentality from rubbing off on my girls…..having role models like this would help! 🙂
This is so inspiring to girls and women everywhere! I love how she’s being featured, and the message in her words. I hope more women of different body types will express their pride! Great post!
I’m so inspired by her. I do plan to use this as a coffee table magazine. I’m proud that ESPN (and you) recognize her as such an incredible role model, not just for her athleticism.
Angela Cruz says
Oh my gosh, I LOVE her and I love this post! Thank you for introducing us to this WINNER!