The best physical shape I was in was during my early 20s when I walked/ran daily and practiced intense yoga several times a week. I wasn’t an athlete or anything, but I felt strong and capable – and for the first (and maybe only!) time in my life, I even had visible abs. Fancy that.
But even then, I was not skinny by any means. I had curves, cellulite, the works. Every woman in my family is built that way, and it took me a while to accept that whatever I do, I’m going to be curvy. Even the years when I was on a very restricted diet and became the smallest I ever was (as a result of panic disorder and disordered eating, no less), I wasn’t “thin” by society’s standards.
It took me many, many years to realize that this is the body-type I’ve been blessed with, there’s no use trying to change it to fit some bullshit societal standard, and that practicing self-love is where it’s really at. I’m a work in progress in terms of body positivity, but I’m getting there.
All of this is why I was moved almost to tears when recently I came across this photo of softball player Lauren Chamberlain from ESPN’s 2018 “Body Issue.”
Look at this amazing woman. She is fucking fierce and beautiful.
First of all, just on paper, Lauren Chamberlain is a force to be reckoned with. She has been a competitive softball player since she was 8 years old. She played for the Oklahoma Sooners in college. As a freshman in 2012, she hit 30 freaking home runs, set a Big 12 conference record, and finished second in the nation for home runs.
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“Growing up in Orange County [California], thick just wasn't in. Thin was in. I remember jean shopping was the worst day of the year because I would try to squeeze into a certain size. I'd have my mind set on a number. Either I fit into that size jeans or I left without a pair because I wouldn't go above a certain size. When I started to get good at sports and when I started hitting the ball really far, that's when my body image changed. I loved what my body was doing for me on the field, and that started to translate off the field. When I got into college athletics, my body and power were celebrated and appreciated; that was huge for my mindset on my body.” @espn #EspnBody #Body10 📸: @hanaasano Hair: @londonschair Makeup: @raevynallen
But it’s not just all she has accomplished athletically or the fact that she is strong AF but has a normal looking female body. It’s also that she has decided to use her voice and her platform to speak out about body positivity, body image, and dispel the false notion that skinny always equals strong or healthy.
Speaking with ESPN, Chamberlain discussed why she decided to pose for the issue. “I don’t think I said yes for myself necessarily,” she told the magazine. “I said yes for the girls around the world who might see the issue and see someone who looks like them — someone who’s thicker, bigger, not as jacked as the typical athlete — and that could give them that boost to love their bodies.”
THANK YOU. We need more woman role-models just like you, Lauren!
And as for her own body image, Chamberlain was honest about her struggles and journey toward body positivity.
“Sometimes, in high school and early college when I was dealing with insecurities about my body, not eating was disrespectful to my body,” Chamberlain said. “Not giving it what it needs to perform in order to achieve a certain look. If we’re being honest, it just became stupid at a certain point.”
Chamberlain also said that getting into sports and feeling powerful and comfortable in her own skin was one of the things that helped her to learn to love and respect her body type – and to learn to give the middle finger to all the unattainable “perfect” body stereotypes floating around the media.
“You’re after this unattainable look, this Instagram look, and it’s not achievable,” she said. “I still deal with that insecurity. How am I not shaped and curved like that Instagram model? But you know what? She can’t hit a ball like me or move like me. She can’t do what I can do.”
Ummmm…yeah. Almost none of us can, sister. So go ahead and own that strength, that beauty, that supreme badassery.
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“It is badass to hit a home run. Physically, it doesn't feel like anything. If you play softball or baseball, you understand what I mean. When you hit the ball well, when you make contact, you don't feel anything. But you feel something rounding those bases. I feel like a pure badass when I hit a home run. Hitting a home run takes everything working at one time. Your mechanics have to be on point, and your timing and mindset have to be on point. You're figuring out what pitch she's going to throw, you're on time with the ball and your body is responding in line with your mind. It's beautiful, and it's a pretty crazy thing if you think about it.” @espn #ESPNBody #Body10 📸: @hanaasano Hair: @londonschair Makeup: @raevynallen
As for the rest of us, it’s not necessarily that you have to go out and get in the best shape of your life to have a body that you can be proud of. Not at all. We’re all amazing whatever shape we are in and whatever limitations we may have.
It’s about realizing that there is a whole lot of patriarchal bullshit out there about how woman are supposed to look. It has been drilled into our heads since were small children. But our greatest strength comes from recognizing that, and then learning – however impossible it may feel at times – that despite all we’ve been led to believe, there is a greater truth out there.
And that is that we are all incredible, hot, gorgeous, strong, capable goddesses, each and every day, no matter fucking what.