On Prince Fielder’s Body Issue Cover

9 Jul

prince_fielderAbout a year ago, I went to an event called Drink and Draw. For 10 bucks, you have all you can drink beer and you draw a nude model. I tend to doodle occasionally, so I thought what the hell.

The model was not…Matthew McConaughey. He wasn’t even Matthew’s lesser-known brother, Rooster. He was a medium-height, schlubby-built, pasty man with a face someone, somewhere could love. And he was totally naked, standing on the platform with no shame. He was there to serve a purpose: be the inspiration for the artist. He slid in and out of different poses, giving each artist in the room a different view of him to capture to paper.

He was perfect. The light caught his curves in just the right settings, casting off enough shadow so I could draw the negative space. This man with a less-than-ideal body type was an amazing model.

And so is Prince Fielder.

The Texas Rangers’ first baseman is heavy hitter, to put it lightly. To weigh it down—the man’s enormous. He is known for swinging a bat and hitting home runs. Prince’s size and batting ability have drawn comparisons to another big guy—Babe Ruth. But the Babe never stripped down for the cover of a magazine.

The ESPN Body Issue is one of my favorites. This year, the editors decided to do something different and put the girthy Prince Fielder on one of its covers in his usual poster stance: swing away with an arm outstretched toward the ball he’d just made disappear. It’s a beautiful photo capturing a natural doing what he does naturally, albeit au natural.

Social media, as you’d expect, was not so kind to Prince’s portrait.

The Body Issue, as I understand it, is not to “gawk at exceptional bodies,” but to appreciate the athletic body in all its forms. Sure, Serge Ibaka and Venus Williams  may have the more traditional athletic bodies. But Prince is no slouch. He says it himself in his interview: “You don’t have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete.” He doesn’t have the typical muscle definition or 12-pack we’ve been taught to believe all athletes should have. But he does work hard.

You can see it in his stance, in his arms, in his thighs. The man does work out. Not having Larry Fitzgerald’s body doesn’t make him any less of an athlete. There are body types for every sport. Swimmers tend to have short legs, big feet and long legs. Sprinters tend to have tight cores, large thighs and defined calves. Basketball players tend to have long arms, wide-set shoulders and long legs.

And to all this I say, so what? There are exceptions to every rule. While many will strive to have Lebron James’s or Michael Phelp’s bodies—which were built for their respective sports—it doesn’t mean an athlete with a different shape can’t excel.

prince_fielder2I’ve made my feelings about fat shaming perfectly clear: it’s a no-no. No one, no matter where he or she is on the journey, deserves ridicule for the way that person’s body is shaped. Prince’s ESPN cover and the subsequent rants from the Twitter gallery show that men are subject to body shaming just as women are. It’s cruel and it’s counterproductive. We should celebrate a healthy body, especially one that is capable of performing incredible athletic feats, no matter what the size. If he has the courage to go nude on a national magazine cover, regardless his size, he gets my congratulations.

There are a great many physical things we cannot control, but we can control our reactions to them. Prince Fielder is an exceptional athlete who’s not here for your criticism of his body. “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.”

What did you think of the cover? Would you be able to pose nude, be it for an art class or even a magazine cover?

photos courtesy of ESPN Magazine

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9 Responses to “On Prince Fielder’s Body Issue Cover”

  1. Brick July 23, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    Actually most men are not subjected to body-shaming or the recipients of unwanted comments/critiques on our bodies/appearance, in the same way that all women are, as a regular, daily thing out in the world. Fielder put himself out there- nude, on the cover of a mainstream magazine- to garner this type on attention and has been treated in a more positive way overall than any woman of his size would have been. We do not live in world where men’s bodies are scrutinized and treated as public property in the way women’s bodies are and putting it forth as such seeks to erase the issues that women face. But XYZ happens to men, too! This one instance in not comparable to what women as an entire class of people face regularly or helpful to any discussion or efforts to change the climate of harassment/abuse/rape that women face in the world.

    FWIW, I think Fielder looks majestic and I love this cover! Also, Solange Knowles is a brainless twit.

    • cicelyd July 23, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

      Thanks, Brick. You’re right in that most men aren’t subject to the type of body-shaming that women are. But I think it doesn’t advance the argument against body-shaming to say a it doesn’t mean anything when it happens to a man. I’m against body shaming in any form. I’m all for anyone, man or woman, being comfortable in their skin despite the scrutiny they may receive.

      Also, the tweet wasn’t from Solange, but from another Twitter user whose handle is “Solarge.”

      • Brick July 24, 2014 at 12:59 am #

        Sorry, I misread! I don’t know anything about Solange, so there is a good possibly I am wrong about her brain 🙂 I respect your point, I just think in today’s climate, many issues facing women are only recognized when they affect men as well. I enjoyed your article, and I didn’t mean to single you out, I am just very dedicated to women and women’s issues, which I am sure you would agree are valid on their own terms– all the best 🙂

      • cicelyd July 24, 2014 at 4:58 am #

        I appreciate your dedication and passion for women’s issues. The world needs more people like you willing to speak up. Thanks so much for taking the time out to read and even comment on a post. I love interacting with readers.

  2. Zee July 18, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Well said. What a great post, C.D.

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