Thank You ESPN, For Showing Us That Athletes Come In All Shapes & Sizes

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ESPN continued a tradition they started six years ago–the Body Issue. Labeling the nude athletes who grace the covers, “the bodies we want” is  motivational and aspirational. Out of six other covers, the standout star of this Body Issue is Prince Fielder, an adorable chubby-cheeked first baseman of the Texas Rangers. According to the team’s website, Fielder is 5’11″ and 275 lbs. His stocky build, in the nude, is causing quite the ruckus on the internet.

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Fielder made an impression on us all by being an unconventional body type for a baseball player and it warmed my heart to see someone like him be celebrated. ESPN wins for their Body Issue because they illustrate diverse body types of athletes. We’ve seen Venus Williams, Serge Ibaka, Colin Kaepernick, Blake Griffin, Danyelle Wofe and more and the message that I get is…we don’t have to be perfectly sculpted to be physically outstanding.

Far too often in the media, we are spoon-fed unrealistic images of celebrities who are thin enough to make us opt for a salad instead of the burger and fries we’re craving for lunch. Not every fit body fits into a thin or even toned mold. Fielder says, “Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete. And just because you work out doesn’t mean you’re going to have a 12-pack.” And to that, I say, “Amen!”

I just want to send a big thank you to ESPN and Prince Fielder for being fearless enough to share imagery that is unorthodox for athletes and being so encouraging to those out there who don’t think they can play sports because they don’t fit the mold.

The Body Issue hits stands on July 11, but until then, check out these quotables from Prince Fielder about his feature:

You don’t have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete. A lot of people probably think I’m not athletic or don’t even try to work out or whatever, but I do. Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete. And just because you work out doesn’t mean you’re going to have a 12-pack. I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Other than that, I’m not going up there trying to be a fitness model.

I need to feed the size. Obviously, I’m a big guy. But I also need to feed myself with the right things. I have a chef now, so it’s definitely easier to make sure that I’m getting full off of the right foods. If I don’t stay on it, it can get out of control.

I don’t think working out makes you better at baseball. Doing actual baseball activities will help with that. But if I could just not do anything, and still be in shape and get through an entire season, that would be great. But that’s not realistic. There are 162 games ahead of you that must be done.

All I wanted was a chance. People didn’t think I’d be able to play every day because of my size or be capable of having a long career. They were just dismissing me. At first I used it as motivation, but then I realized keeping all that anger in for no reason just got old. I’m too old for that.

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