You’d expect a magazine spread splashed with naked bodies to get a great deal of attention, but no-one could have anticipated the standout star of ESPN The Magazine’s 2014 Body issue. Enter Major League Baseball player Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers.
The five-time All Star baseball player takes center stage in one of the issue’s skin barring shots which almost instantly prompted ridicule and criticism online. While many condemned Fielder for not having a typical athletic body, others used the nude shot to make him the butt of their jokes.
Here’s a sampling of the many insults Fielder faced:
- i was tempted to have another donut this morning. Then i saw the photo of naked Prince Fielder. Thanks, ESPN.
- Last year, ESPN Body had a pregnant Kerri Walsh, looks like they wanted something similar this year #PrinceFielder @jaymohr37 #JayMohrSports
- @ESPNMag @RealPFielder28 why do you think we want to see this? Just why?
- Wtf were you thinkin ESPN?? That cover *ugh* was not attractive #PrinceFielder
- Sorry #PrinceFielder, but if i lived to be 99, i didn’t need to see this. Thanks #ESPN. Reason 568 i dumped the mag
- #PrinceFielder naked in #ESPNBodyissue. Excuse me while i claw my eyes out.#cantunseethat #bodybyPapaJohns
- brb putting bleach in my eyes. RT @TerezOwens: The interweb has already started on #PrinceFielder
in the issue’s interview, Fielder comments on his body saying the following:
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.
Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you should be the target of such harsh judgement and body shaming, either. Luckily, there were also several messages of support to counter the negative comments, like:
- #PrinceFielder in the #ESPNBodyissue is nothing short of awesome. We have athletes of every size, let’s showcase it. #power
- You know what? Good for #PrinceFielder . Athletic bodies don’t have to look the way shallow people think they should.
- @RealPFielder28 looks powerful n the body issue http://espn.com/bodyissue pic.twitter.com/BWQYfytcGl, love it! #PrinceFielder #realmenhavecurves
- showing some love to Prince Fielder and @ESPNMag for athletic thick men, six who? #skoreboards #PrinceFielder
The hashtag #HuskyTwitter even emerged starting a much needed appreciation for body acceptance and love with tweets like:
- #HuskyTwitter salutes #PrinceFielder for going nude in ESPN Magazine’s Body issue
- Prince Fielder is large and in charge of his own body image #HuskyTwitter
- i’m really glad #huskytwitter became a thing. All bodies deserve love, praise, appreciation, and everything else.
- To #HuskyTwitter, With Love. it’s about time we show our love for men (and women) of all body types
- Prince Fielder got me feeling like i can accomplish it all today. #HuskyTwitter
- Finally…. a hashtag for me. i feel at home. #HuskyTwitter
if there is anything to be learned from this whole situation, it’s that body shaming and body image concerns aren’t exclusively a woman’s issue. if what happened to Fielder doesn’t convince you then how about this recent Today/AOL body image survey which found that men worry about their appearance more than they worry about their health, family, relationships or professional success.
That’s not all. The survey also found that nearly half of all men think about their personal appearance several times each day and 53% said they felt unsure about their appearance at least once a week. Dieting was also a major concern among men with 63% of participants saying they “always feel like (they) could lose weight.” Women also aren’t the only ones who worry when it comes to beach season. The survey found that 44% of men feel uncomfortable wearing bathing suits and another 41% said they worry that people will judge their appearance.
While we’ve long filed body image concerns as a concern for women, the issue now often hits home for men as well. Another study from the JAMA Pediatrics looked at body image in younger boys. The study found that 18% of boys are highly concerned about their weight and body. Of these nearly half were predominately worried about gaining more muscle. Such concerns resulted in boys being more likely to be depressed and engage in high-risk behaviors such as binge drinking and drug use.
One of the factors for this growing concern among boys can be attributed to the toys they play with, says the study. Action figures today feature bulging muscle with sleek six packs and even Halloween costumes for youngsters come padded with fake muscles and drawn on definition. The message that muscles make a man sexy and powerful could not be more clear. Just like Barbie warps girls’ views of what is beautiful, action figures and costumes warp boys’ views of what they should look like if they want to be attractive.
That’s why Fielder’s inclusion in ESPN’s Body issue is so special. His nude shots are a great contrast to the everyday examples that engulf young boys’ and men’s lives. Showing a male figure like Fielder who is not only strong, but also proud of his huskier body, is proof positive that beautiful bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
Now, i’d say that’s a home run.
Photo Credit: ESPN The Magazine Body Issue 2014