This rad Olympian-to-be is all about body acceptance

If you only watched gymnastics, swimming & diving, and track at the Olympics, you’d think that every female Olympian was a muscular skinny gal with a similar body type. But Amanda Bingson, a contender for the U.S. Olympic team at next year’s Summer Games, is here to prove everyone wrong, posing nude for ESPN magazine’s hotly-anticipated Body Issue (due July 10) and showing that Olympic-level athletes truly come in all shapes and sizes.

Bingson, a 5’5”, 210 lb. expert in the hammer throw, currently holds the American record for the event with a 75.73 meter (248 ft 51⁄4 in) throw she made in 2013. The 25-year-old spoke with ESPN magazine about not only the science of the hammer throw, but the body image issues she’s faced — and has ultimately overcome — as a heavyset but undoubtedly athletic competitor. Here are some of her most important sound bites from the Body Issue.

On her first run-in with body shaming

“I first learned the word ‘fat’ when I was in middle school. 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. Like I said, I’ll still whip your ass if we ever got into a fight.”

On learning to accept her body

“I’ll be honest, I like everything about my body. And I think it’s because I moved from Las Vegas to Texas. In Vegas, I was bombarded with all of these ‘double zeros’ and Abercrombie models, these little people coming in for shows. I never wanted to be a part of that, ever. And when I moved to Texas, everyone here is just so open about their bodies. I see these big girls in these tiny little bathing suits and I’m looking at them like, ‘Man, these girls are so confident!’ Now I just think, ‘I’m just going to throw far because I’m confident with myself and I don’t have to worry about what I look like anymore.’”

On her fitness routine

“I’m a protein junkie. I put protein in everything. [My coaches] want me to eat 175 grams of protein a day, which is a lot. And so I came up with all of these different ways to put protein in everything. It’s unflavored, so I’ll put a full scoop into my mashed potatoes and just mix it up. I put it in chicken salad, egg salad; I put it in my pasta. I just made spinach-and-artichoke dip and I put three scoops of protein in there.

I have a very strong core. For training, we do a lot of twisting motions because that’s what our event mainly is: twisting. But I don’t have a six-pack or anything else like that. I have, like, two rolls in the back, but I still think I’m pretty strong in my core.”

On the misconception that athletes are one-size-fits-all

“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.”

On maintaining some kind of beauty routine

“You just have to tape up your fingers and hope they don’t fall off. You have all this weight just hanging on the edge of your fingers, and with the velocity coming around it, it just destroys your hands. I get manicures every two weeks on my ugly hands and I’m all apologetic: ‘I know my hands are disgusting. I throw stuff. I’m sorry.’”

On self-acceptance

“Whatever your body type is, just use it. There are definitely things that I can do that skinnier people can’t do. But then there are things that skinnier people do that I’ll never be able to do, like run a marathon. There’s just no way that will ever happen.”

On her reaction if she places at the 2016 Summer Olympics

“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!”

Read the full article and more from the Body Issue here.

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[Photo credit: ESPN]

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