In ancient Greece, the likenesses of gods and accomplished athletes were carved into statue au naturel, but heroic nudity was far from sexual. ESPN The Magazine revisits this historic tradition in its annual Body Issue, which features nude and semi-nude action shots of athletes playing sports as well as interviews with the subjects talking about how life has shaped their bodies and body image. These positive body image quotes from the 2016 ESPN The Magazine Body Issue show just how complicated body image can be even for those at the top of their game.
When ESPN The Magazine released its first Body Issue in 2009, society was quick to compare the annual publication to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. But ESPN had other plans for its newest tradition. The Body Issue wasn't meant to celebrate one specific kind of body or the oiled and sun-kissed female form. In its eight issues, ESPN has featured both men and women, old and young, pregnant, ethnically diverse, and LGBT athletes. The 2016 Body Issue, released online July 6, features Chris Mosier — duathlete, Olympian, and the publication's first transgender subject.
The Body Issue is online July 6, and the physical magazine will hit news stands July 8. Check out these inspiring quotes that just go to show you that bodies are incredible, no matter what.
1. Vince Wilfork
"I know I don’t have the six-packs and the eight-packs and all that … but I’m perfectly fine with what I am... If people can look at me, look at a guy that’s 325-plus doing an issue like this, I’m pretty sure that they might have a little confidence after seeing that it’s OK to be who you are."
Houston Texans defensive tackle Vince Wilfork wants people to accept themselves just the way they are, because you don't need a six-pack to sport two Super Bowl rings.
2. Dwyane Wade
"I had a fear of being naked in front of others and a fear of being judged. So to me, overcoming that is the biggest thing. Someone may look at me and think, 'Why would you have insecurity?' Well, this is real life and I’m human, and these are the things that I deal with that many others might deal with.”
The NBA star admits to being nervous for his Body Issue photoshoot, and stressed that having body doubts and insecurities is part of being human.
3. Christen Press
“I love that I can be athletic and fast and powerful but still come in a small frame.”
The US Women's National Soccer Team's champion forward wants you to know that big, strong things can come in small, feminine packages.
4. Chris Mosier
"I think the reason I felt so inspired to do it is that I'm finally at a place where I feel very comfortable with my body. And as a trans person, being in a body that didn't really fit me for 29 years, now I feel very comfortable in my own skin."
Chris Mosier made history as the first transgender athlete to be featured in the Body Issue. He exemplifies ESPN's hashtag #BodyLove, and I'll be rooting for him at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
5. Courtney Conlogue
"For me, there was a long time where I was a little self-conscious because I was an athlete. I had huge thighs because I was weight training and doing all of these deadlifts with resistance and squats… Being a strong woman is a good thing."
Because being a champion surfer requires a lot of strength, Conlogue realized her thighs were something to be proud of — a testament to her dedication.
6. Greg Louganis
"I think HIV has helped motivate me mentally and physically. I look at working out and doing something physically active every day as being as important as taking my meds."
Greg Louganis was diagnosed HIV positive in 1988, six months before the '88 summer Olympics, in a time when receiving such a diagnosis was considered a death sentence. Louganis does yoga, takes spin classes, and has recently reintroduced gymnastics into his routine.
Image: Courtesy Peter Hapak for the 2016 ESPN Magazine Body Issue; Carlos Serrao for ESPN The Magazine Body Issue; Getty; Benedict Evans for ESPN The Magazine Body Issue; Getty; Getty