ESPN Body Issue, Released Online Today, To Hit Newsstands Friday

For eight years, ESPN has celebrated the human body with its annual body issue. The magazine’s body issue is a celebration of the human form and all shapes and sizes. Recently, ABC News highlighted a sneak peak of the ESPN body issue for 2016, and it’s safe to say that this year the magazine is highlighting some of the fittest, toughest, strongest athletes the world has ever known.

For starters, three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade will grace the pages of the magazine in his perfectly toned birthday suit. During an interview that took place during the photo shoot, Dwayne told ESPN, “I had a fear of being naked in front of others and a fear of being judged,” he went on to say, “so to me, overcoming that is the biggest thing. Someone may look at me and think, ‘why would you have insecurity?’ Well, this is real life and I’m human, and these are things that I deal with that many others might deal with.”

Wade isn’t the only superstar we’ll see in the buff this year. Olympic swimmer Nathan Adrian bears all in the issue, along with soccer star Christen Press, surfer Courtney Conlogue and triathlete Chris Mosier.

MMA superstar Conor McGregor is also featured among the athletic gods and goddesses, alongside the NFL’s Von Miller and fencing champ Nzingha Prescod.

Football legend Vince Wilfork was chosen for the cover of the magazine. Wilfork weighs in at over 325 pounds. His body is not the statuesque, rock-hard depiction one typically expects from a magazine of this sort, and he is honored by the opportunity to model body confidence. He said that confidence in one’s body and the dedication to one’s dreams are most important.

“I’m 120 percent confident in myself,” Wilfork said. “I am who I am. When it was time to get down to business it was no different than me getting ready to play a football game. I was there to do a job and I attacked it that way.”

It’s no surprise that the body issue is getting tons of press. With athletes like baseball great Jake Arrieta, the only MLB centerfold for ESPN this year, highlighting his strong stance on the mound as his best physical feature and his flexibility as his most important asset; and the rest of the athletes discussing both their confidences, as well the things about themselves that make them self-conscious, it’s easy to see why the public will be scrambling to get their hands on the issue. These athletes, while nearly perfect physically, are real people just like the rest of us.

Arrieta, who stands 6’4″ and weighs in at 225, said, “I expect to beat everybody I play. It’s kind of that quiet confidence that I have inside that I try to present to the opponent without getting too overboard. Because there are times when I seem composed but inside I’m losing my mind.”

During a time when the issue of body confidence is such a hot-button topic among adults and youths alike, ESPN’s focus on confidence in physiques of all shapes and sizes is a welcome change from much of what the media displays as the physical ideal on magazine covers all over the world.

The feedback on ESPN’s body issue has been largely positive. Many people are praising the magazine for highlighting what the athletic body really looks like, while also focusing on the beauty of the human form and the majesty of all it’s capable of accomplishing.

This ESPN body issue is available online today, July 6, and will hit newsstands everywhere on July 8.

[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]