U.S. soccer champ, Hope Solo, may have gotten dissed on Dancing With the Stars for being too muscular, but she’s proving that being buff can indeed be both feminine and beautiful on the new cover of ESPN’s The Body Issue.
Solo’s image is one of four covers that is highlighting athletes in all of their naked glory while recreating their favorite move on the field, on the court or on the slopes. Other cover images include the Clippers forward Blake Griffin, Mets player Jose Reyes and pro snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler.
For Solo, this is an opportunity to show off a physique that she says she’s only recently come to appreciate. In the magazine, she says:
Growing up, I felt insecure about my build. Guys would say,‘Look at those muscles! You can kick my ass!’ I didn’t feel feminine. But that’s changed in the past four years. I saw the connection between my body and my accomplishments. I couldn’t have been a great goalkeeper without power, agility and quickness. I was so self-conscious about my broad shoulders in college that I’d avoid weight lifting, but now I’m most proud of that part of my body.
It’s an “exploration and celebration of the athletic form,” editor-in-chief Chad Millman said in a statement.
Solo also says that she’s “honored” to be featured nude on one of the covers, because it celebrates “not just the athlete’s body, but the female’s athlete’s body.”
Other female athletes revealed in the “Bodies We Want” section are WNBA’s Sylvia Fowles, LPGA rookie Belen Mozo, track and field star Natasha Hastings, hockey player Julie Chu, tennis player Vera Zvonareva and surfer Steph Gilmore.
Finally, someone who appreciates the beauty of a buff female body!