USSSA Pride softball player Lauren Chamberlain talks about how she learned to love her strong physique through sports in ESPN magazine’s ‘Body Issue’
American softball player Lauren Chamberlain just hit a home run for body positivity.
The 24-year-old former Olympian, who now plays professionally with the Florida-based softball team United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Pride, revealed her own personal struggles with accepting her curves in a nude photo spread for ESPN Magazine’s annual “Body Issue.”
Chamberlain grew up in Orange County, Calif., where she said “thick just wasn’t in.” She dreaded jeans shopping, and would refuse to buy any pairs that went above a “certain size,” she admitted. But then she learned to appreciate her body type when she started to excel in sports, namely softball.
“I loved what my body was doing for me on the field, and that started to translate off the field,” she told the magazine. “When I got to college athletics, my body and power were celebrated and appreciated; that was huge for my mindset on my body image.
“I am big-boned, no doubt about it,” she added. “But I really like my thick legs. I love my thighs. I have an insane amount of power, especially in my hitting. That’s my thing, and I own hitting because of my body structure.”
Chamberlain, who hit 30 home runs as a college freshman playing for the Oklahoma Sooners, now feels like she let herself down in striving to fit the idealized body image in high school. “Not eating was disrespectful to my body,” she said. “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.”
Chamberlain’s message is a step closer to boosting body image for the many women struggling with insecurity. A Glamour magazine survey revealed that 97% of women say they have at least one negative thought about their body image every single day. What’s more, research suggests that 1% of female teens have anorexia, while 4% of college-aged women suffer with bulimia, and 50% of people those who have been anorexic develop bulimia or bulimic patterns in their lifetime, according to statistics from Anorexia Nervosa & Related Eating Disorders.
Chamberlain said she still deals with insecurities, and sometimes questions why she’s “not shaped and curved like that Instagram model?” So then she reminds herself of her athletic ability: “But you know what? She can’t hit a ball like me or move like me. She can’t do what I do.”
Social media has a major impact on body image and overall self-worth. Research suggests that visual platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are vehicles for teens in particular to seek approval from their peers via “likes,” and to obsessively compare themselves to others. And this can lead to symptoms of low self-worth and even depression when they think they can’t measure up.
Chamberlain’s encouraging views on self-love drew in praise from celebrities and fans alike.
Actress and comedian Amy Schumer, whose movie “I Feel Pretty” ties in similar themes of loving yourself, posted a photo of Chamberlain with the caption, “I love this picture of @LoChamberlain for @ESNP body issue. It give [sic] me the feels as the kids call it.”
Others commended Chamberlain for being so real.
“Yes Lo, I’ve never related to an athlete more. Thank you for this interview and for all of your contributions to our sport,” one fan tweeted.
Yes Lo 😍😍 I’ve never related to an athlete more. Thank you for this interview and for all of your contributions to our sport @LChamberlain44
— Liz Parkins (@THE_LIZZZ) June 25, 2018
“Crying bc Lauren Chamberlain is out here normalizing strong bodies,” another fan tweeted.
Crying bc Lauren Chamberlain is out here normalizing strong bodies https://t.co/RrNl9UhEnS
— Ash3ton (@Asheton3Arebalo) June 26, 2018
Chamberlain said she agreed to pose nude because she wanted to show the world, especially young girls who look up to her, that not all athletes have six packs.
“I will always be thick. I will always be a bigger girl,” she said. “When I get muscle, it’s not cut. I have dimples and cellulite on my legs. But I’ve come to an understanding about that, instead of being picky about myself in the mirror.”
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