SAY HELLO TO YOUR NEW BODY POSITIVE HERO!!!!!
Allow me to introduce you all to Amanda Bingson,
The USA Track & Field Hammer Thrower, who was just featured on the cover of ESPN’s Annual Body Issue.
(I know…jaw on floor)
Now, I don’t really follow Track & Field, or the Olympics in general for that matter,
But I saw the above photo of this woman trending on Tumblr and I had to learn more about her.
To my (not) surprise, while growing up, doctors told Amanda that she was morbidly obese.
In high school she wasn’t allowed on the varsity volleyball team because she couldn’t lose enough weight.
Let that sink in for just a minute…
Amanda wasn’t allowed to be an active player on her high school’s volleyball team…because she wouldn’t look good in the jersey!!!!!!!
If that statement doesn’t make you mad, you have no soul.
But Amanda bounced back from the bullying,
In 2012 she placed 2nd in the US Olympic Trials.
AND IN 2013 THIS POWERFUL WOMAN BROKE A U.S. RECORD.
Not only did she not let anyone stop her from becoming great, their negativity was just fuel for her fire.
The below Q&A is taken from her interview with HuffingtonPost. You can read the whole article here.
Can you speak more to the bullying when you were younger — have people ever spoken down to you about your body?
Oh yeah, even doctors. I have always been active. I grew up on a construction site, so I’ve been lifting and doing all sorts of physical activities ever since I was a little girl. I have farmer’s strength. At 13 years old, a doctor straight told me that I was morbidly obese because I didn’t fit on their BMI chart. I just remember my mom grabbing my arm and running out of the doctor’s office. I had never really known what that meant because my parents always supported me and told me that I was beautiful and to use your body for what you do and don’t try to be what other people expect you to be, so I was very sheltered.
Once I got into the high school range where social media started picking up a little bit more and you see everything in the magazines and the Internet, it definitely got a little bit harder because we had all that imagery being thrown in our faces. And especially growing up in Las Vegas — it’s the entertainment capital of the world — and you see all the entertainers with the chiseled abs and the pasties coming in doing all their shows, so it was definitely kind of hard. But I just transferred it into my athleticism. I was like, yes I am bigger than most of these girls that I’m competing with and going to school with, but I’m also the one on the varsity teams, making it to state, doing all these great achievements in my athleticism and I think that’s really what you have to do when you’re put in that situation.
Were you always athletically-inclined as a kid?
I grew up in dance and gymnastics and then of course during recess we would play soccer. I was really competitive in soccer — I was playing along with all the boys and I was the first one picked on the team because I was bigger than most of them and I wasn’t scared to get hit because I knew I could take it. I was always doing that, and then my first organized sport was volleyball. I started doing that and competing and I fell in love. Even today, I still love it. That’s what I grew up with, doing that all the way through elementary school and middle school, doing the camps in the summer and summer leagues.
When I got to high school there was an incident where I hit puberty and grew up a little bit faster than most of the other girls and my coach told me that I had to lose a couple of pounds if I wanted to be on varsity. I did my best to [lose the weight] because I wanted to fit into that volleyball mold and be a volleyball player and get a scholarship for volleyball. Track and field was something I did on the side to fill up my season. And then after I lost all the weight, she told me I still wouldn’t make it on varsity unless I lost another 10 pounds. I was so over it. I was just like, go kick sticks. I can’t. I’ve done everything I could. This isn’t for me. And so that’s when I really focused on track and field and ended up doing really well my senior year and being able to go onto college doing it.
We talk a lot about the way women’s bodies are scrutinized by the media. How is that different at your level of athletic competition?
It’s so much different. I am tiny in the throws world. I am a midget and I am the skinny little girl that everyone’s trying to shove food in my face because I need to get fattened up. It’s such a different perspective to see. The body issue in athleticism is just so much different because as long as you’re doing well and you’re successful in what you’re doing, who cares if you’re 250 pounds or 200 pounds or 164 pounds.
What’s your take on the way we talk about women’s bodies in the media?
I understand the reality of it. Everybody wants it. But I think it’s so disgusting. Instead of sitting there and telling me “Hey, here’s how you can lose 10 pounds” — I think that’s so silly — why don’t you say, “Hey, here’s 10 ways to be more proud of yourself, here’s 10 ways to look at yourself differently.”
What do you know now about your body or the way you perceive your body that you wish your 18-year-old self knew?
Oh man, get over it. Everybody loves some cushion — I learned that real quick. Growing up I always thought the only people that get the attention and get the boys are the skinny little models that have that perfect butt, no cellulite, no stretch marks. And now I’m getting to that point where it’s just like no, there are other people that love them some big girls. And I think if I would’ve known that back then, my life living in Las Vegas and going to college in Las Vegas and trying to get a job would’ve been so much easier. I would’ve been like man, screw them, I love myself. Other people love me. So who cares? Gosh, my life would’ve been so much easier.
Do you have any advice for women, of all shapes and sizes, who struggle with their body image?
You just have to find something that makes you feel good. Whether you’re male or female or anything — there are plenty of men that have body issues — you just have to find something that makes you feel good and fit into your own world.
There are so many different worlds and societies out there that support big girls and things that we can do. You just have to go find it. They’re not gonna shove it in our face. And if I can help out in any kind of way, don’t hesitate to message me and we can get through this together.
I’m in love with this woman. She’s incredibly smart, incredibly beautiful, incredibly empowered,
When you feel down about your body, remind yourself of Amanda Bingson’s story.
How she shifted from the negative to the positive,
And used her body’s strengths to succeed instead of letting what society views as “weaknesses” hold her back.