Sometimes it can seem as though American bodies come in two extremes: flabby endomorphs bulging out of their waistbands as they wait in line at the fast-food stand, and stick-thin diet obsessives filling the pages of fashion magazines.
But the July issue of ESPN’s magazine gives us some more-inspiring body images to contemplate — and lets us contemplate all of them. It’s the mag’s sixth annual body issue, featuring carefully posed naked pictures of some amazingly developed human musculature.
The photographs show off the powerful thighs of tennis superstar Venus Williams and the NBA’s Serge Ibaka, the intimidating stance of boxer Danyelle Wolf and the sinewy strength of two Baltimore natives — basketball player Angel McCoughtry and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.
We can also see pretty much all of running back Marshawn Lynch (impressive tattoos) and Texas Ranger Prince Fielder (also sporting some dramatic body art as well as a pronounced — and yet not flabby — belly) plus Omar Gonzalez of the U.S. World Cup team, married X Games stars Travis (motocross) and Lyn-Z (skateboard) Pastrana riding double on a dirt bike, bobsledder Aja Evans, surfer Coco Ho and more.
Perhaps most striking is Paralympian snowboarder Amy Purdy, stunning and strong despite having lost both legs below the knee to bacterial meningitis.
Photos are online at espn.go.com, as are videos in which Purdy talks about the challenges she’s faced, the Pastranas talk about raising a baby and getting older, sailor Steven Lippman talks about the America’s Cup, Fielder talks about sitting out the baseball season after neck surgery, several naked athletes talk about being shy — and everybody talks about how they work out.