When it comes to thinking of who are the most beautiful people in the world, you may think of different musicians or actresses. Yet while that may be true in your eyes, I guarantee none of them are even close to being as in shape as the women you are about to see.
There’s also a pretty good chance that you’ve also never seen your favorite stars wearing quite so little!
For those unaware, The Body Issue, was started by ESPN in 2009 in hopes that it would rival Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue. The idea was to take your favorite athletes, and then take off their clothes and let the world see just how in shape you have to be to be a top-tier athlete (turns out, very!). The issues were a huge success, and not just because the athletes are gorgeous.
The photos are captivating, partially because of a high emphasis on body positivity. By featuring women and men of all shapes and sizes, ESPN can reach out and impact more individuals who may be reading it.
While men are featured in every edition, today we’re just going to be focusing on some of the most beautiful women to ever grace the magazine. Though, don’t get me wrong, these women are also incredibly talented. From household names like Ronda Rousey, to lesser-known, but equally amazing athletes like snowboarder Jamie Anderson.
Trust me, once you start looking, you’ll also realize it would have been impossible to organize these based on any “most beautiful” scale, and instead it’s ordered by age. With the range going from 41, all the way to 19! Age isn’t the only shocking factor though, as these women’s height range from 6’8″, all the way down to our #1 spot who is only 5’1″! (Can you guess her sport?)
It is clear that ESPN was not afraid to open up their doors to women of all ages and sizes, and do so in an incredibly empowering way. The heights, weights and ages listed are all from the time of their photoshoot and will hopefully help complete the picture of just how these women look in person, and what it takes to excel as an athlete.
15. Khatuna Lorig – 5’7″, 140 lbs, 41 years old
Yeah, you read that right, she’s 41 years old! As the oldest woman on the list, it’s perhaps fitting that her sport is equally impressive. Call me crazy, but if you need to show off a cool skill, being an archer is right up there at the top. Imagine the accuracy that you must carry in your every day life.
Khatuna talks about how while people think Archery is easy recreationally, “it’s very hard to do at a professional level. It takes a whole lot of physical and mental strength.”
Props to the photo team for nailing the location by setting the archer in the natural setting of a forest. Bring it on, Katniss!
14. Natalie Coughlin – 5’8″, 141 lbs, 32 years old
Holy smokes, talk about a tan line! But I suppose when you spend as much of your day in a bathing suit as Natalie does, that’s only par for the course! Coughlin is one of the most decorated women in swimming history, winning 12 medals over her career. Easy to see why she was well deserving of the American Swimmer of the Year Award, three separate times!
When asked her thoughts on why she loves the ESPN’s Body Issue so much, she spoke to the level of diversity found in the magazine.
“One of the things I love about the Body Issue so much is that it celebrates the bodies that allow us to be successful in our sport. As a sports fan, I love seeing the differences in body types.”
13. Ali Krieger – 5’6″, 138 lbs, 30 years old
While some women dread turning 30, Ali claims it was one of the best things that ever happened to her. She opened up to ESPN about how now she “just feel[s] a great sense of freedom. My 20s were really tough…and now I feel like I know what I want from life.”
Definitely not a bad way to be feeling, but it’s not like Ali is far from accomplished! As a member of the United States women’s national soccer team, Krieger has won the Fifa Women’s World Cup, as well as the silver medal. Ali is also recovered from a significant knee injury, and clearly looking ready to keep conquering the soccer pitch.
12. Megan Rapinoe – 5’6″, 133 lbs, 29 years old
As you may be able to tell from the above photo, Megan plays soccer professionally! She, like some others on this list, helped the United States win the Fifa Women’s World cup in 2015, as well as the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. She disclosed to ESPN about how she was always comfortable with her body growing up, and felt more like a tomboy, but “then I got some boobs. I was like ‘I don’t know about this. This is weird.’ Other than that, I’ve always been comfortable with my body.”
Clearly she has a lot to be confident about, both on and off the pitch!
11. Dallas Friday – 5’2″, 108 lbs, 28 years old
Dallas may only be 5’2″, but don’t worry, she’s used to standing on the podium! She’s one of the best wakeboarders in the world, capturing gold at the X Games four separate times. Dallas is 28 years old now, but she started wakeboarding professionally at the age of 14; so you better believe she has experience in the industry.
When ESPN realized they had the chance to capture that stunning blue water, they must have been all over that idea. There is no need to construct a set when nature is that beautiful!
10. Chantae McMillan – 5’8″, 153 lbs, 27 years old
What are your first thoughts when you look at Chantae? Perhaps it is that those muscles may look like a lot of work, but she swears it comes to her super easily.
“My coach is afraid to have me do too much lifting because I’ll blow up really quick…I look in the mirror and I’m like ‘Whoa, Beast!'”
She wouldn’t be the only one that shares that sentiment! Chantae may not have any medals to her name yet, but this heptathlete was one of the six athletes that were featured on the 2015 cover of the ESPN Body Issue, and you can imagine she is training hard to make a name for herself in the near future.
9. Amanda Bingson – 5’6″, 210 lbs, 25 years old
Now hammer throwing may not be as popular a sport as say hockey, but if you are trying to catch a criminal that’s getting away, who do you think you’re calling? Amanda is a tank in her respective sport, and holds the American record for distance which was set back in 2013. She was selected as one of the covers for the 2015 issue, highlighting the issue’s emphasis on different body types. Amanda may not be the tiniest person on here, but her attitude is powerful.
“Whatever your body type is, just use it. There are definitely things that I can do that skinnier people can’t do. But then there are things that skinnier people do that I’ll never be able to do, like run a marathon. There’s just no way that will ever happen.”
At least it is clear that she knows her strengths!
8. Ronda Rousey – 5’6″, 135 lbs, 25 years old
Ronda may be 29 years old now, but there’s no doubt that she was just as impressive back at 25 years old. Then, she was a Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion and was on the rise as one of the best female MMA artists in the world. Today, she is arguably the best female MMA artist in the world.
Despite being confident today, Rousey talked about how growing up “People made fun of my arms and called me ‘Miss Man.’ It wasn’t until I got older that I realized these people are idiots. I’m fabulous.”
I don’t think there are many people out there that would argue with you! And definitely not many out there that would argue that to your face!
7. Danyelle Wolfe – 5’11”, 152 lbs, 25 years old
Don’t let the above photo fool you, Danyelle is one of the best female boxers in America. In fact, she’s the best! She was the 2014 USA Boxing National Champion! Despite this, she stated that she picked up boxing gloves for the first time roughly five or six years ago! She also opened up about how she needs her training sessions to make her absolutely exhausted, so that when push comes to shove, she’s able to push past the mental blocks.
Looks like the training sessions also help ensure that she is in pretty good shape! She is also the only female athlete that we were able to come across who only had black and white photos available. I suppose it is hard to argue that she doesn’t look amazing in that setting!
6. Paige Selenski – 5’7″, 133 lbs, 25 years old
Paige is a striker on the US National Field Hockey Team, and won gold at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara. When it comes to Paige, you may not notice it at first but she actually has five scars on her face! She disclosed to ESPN that the scars have been left there sometimes by the ball, sometimes another player’s stick! While field hockey may not get the appreciation other sports do, there is no doubting that it is a physically demanding game. Luckily for Paige, she looks like she probably knows what a weight room looks like.
5. Brittany Griner – 6’8″, 205 Pounds, 24 years old
If you’re going to excel in the WNBA, you need to be able to use everything you can to your advantage. For Griner, that may be the fact that she is 6’8″! Towering over most of the opposition, she’s clearly well deserving of her role on the Phoenix Mercury. She was as thrilled as everyone on this list for the chance to celebrate her different body type in such a positive way.
“I’m comfortable in my body and I don’t mind putting it on display…Honestly, I like how unique it is. My big arms, my bigger hands, these long legs — I love being different. If everybody was the same, it’d be a boring-ass world.”
Words that may be incredibly empowering, especially to women out there who may struggle with their height.
4. Jamie Anderson – 5’3″, 115 lbs, 23 years old
Jamie Anderson was the best snowboarder out there in 2014 when she captured gold at the Olympics. Yet the competition is always fierce, so of course she was asked about it during her interview with ESPN.
“I’d rather be inspired by my competition than be jealous. I’m trying to approach it in a different way, where I’m inspired that they’re doing a double cork, even though I’m scared as hell to do it. It makes me feel that maybe I can do it.”
There is no doubt that Jamie has been inspiring for many young snowboarders, so it’s fantastic to see that she draws that same inspiration from those around her. On top of her gold in 2014, Jamie captured gold medals at the Winter X Games in 2007 and 2008, as well as in 2012 and 2013.
3. Coco Ho – 5’3″, 122 lbs, 23 years old
Coco Ho was on top of the ocean, and the world, in 2013 when she was the winner of the 2013 ASP Heat of the Year. Coco spoke out against social media when speaking with ESPN, talking about how after a competition the talk will not be about who was the better surfer, but instead who looked better. Given that Coco is gorgeous, you can imagine she’s grown tired of people talking about her looks, and not her tremendous talent on the waves.
She also opened up to ESPN about how previous to falling in love with surfing, she was a skateboarder, but far preferred falling into water over the cement. Hard to argue with that!
2. Leticia Bufoni – 5’3″, 97 lbs, 22 years old
Leticia may not be a household name, but she’s a three-time X Games gold medalist and one of the best female skateboarders in the game. As a result, it should be no surprise that ESPN came knocking with a great idea for a ‘back-alley’ graffiti-style shot. Also helps that they were able to get her hair to land strategically!
While she did not comment on her body to ESPN, she openly talked about the adrenaline of street-skating and how much more of a rush it is if she is not wearing any protection. Let’s hope that rule doesn’t translate to the bedroom!
1. Aly Raisman – 5’2″, 115 lbs, 21 years old
There is no doubting that Aly is in fantastic shape, and she better be because gymnastics is incredibly hard work! Despite only being 21 years old, Raisman was one of the gymnasts on the U.S. Women’s Team. To her credit, she captured gold medals in team and floor exercises. She was thrilled to do such a body-positive movement as the ESPN issue, and talked about how she’s become more accepting of her body as she gets older.
“Instead of being insecure about my muscles, I’ve learned to love them. I don’t even think of it as a flaw anymore because it’s made me into the athlete that I am. I think imperfection is beauty.”
Given that she is probably going to be in amazing shape for her entire life, it’s a great thing that she has learned to accept her body.