Monday 16 July 2018

American softball player Lauren Chamberlain has become the runaway star of ESPN's Body Issue (NSFW)

Softball player Lauren Chamberlain walks onstage at the 37th Annual Salute To Women In Sports Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on October 19, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Women's Sports Foundation )
Softball player Lauren Chamberlain walks onstage at the 37th Annual Salute To Women In Sports Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on October 19, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Women's Sports Foundation )
Lauren Chamberlain for ESPN's Body Issue. Picture: Eric Lutzens/ESPN Magazine
Softball player Lauren Chamberlain attends The 2015 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

If you don't already know American softball player Lauren Chamberlain, consider this your formal introduction.

The 24-year-old, a former Olympian who now plays professionally with the USSSA Pride, features in ESPN Magazine's annual body issue, becoming the runaway hit for body positivity, with her images being shared prominently on social media. In the interview, Chamberlain speaks about learning to love herself, saying that in her native Orange County, California, "thick just wasn't in", but her attitude to her physique began to change when she realised her aptitude at sports.

"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," she told the magazine.

She spoke about trying to fit in with expected standard of her body during high school and college which she describes now as being "stupid at a certain point".

"Any time I went against my body and didn't give it what it needed in an attempt to achieve a societal norm, I let myself down. Sometimes, in high school and early college when I was dealing with insecurities about my body, not eating was disrespectful to my body," she explained to ESPN.

"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. You're after this unattainable look, this Instagram look, and it's not achievable. 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."

A number of women from around the world, including actress Amy Schumer, have come out in support of Lauren's honesty with her journey to body positivity and admiration for her candour and dedication to physical strength.

The annual issue of the sports magazine has always been a reflection of athleticism, but was among the first mainstream magazines to devote its content to more exclusivity and this year's cover features Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe, the first openly gay couple to appear together on a magazine cover.

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