Amanda Bingson competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and is currently training for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. She is the current America record holder in the hammer throw. Earlier this year Amanda was featured on the cover ESPN magazine's annual Body Issue which is known for it’s incredible photos of athletes posing nude.
Since the cover’s release, Amanda has become known for more than her athleticism. At 5’6” tall and 210 pounds, she is not your typical “cover girl”. And with statements like “Whatever your body type is, just use it” - Amanda has become an ambassador of body positivity. She is using the spotlight to spread the message that athletes – and beautiful women - come in all shapes and sizes.
Amanda has excelled at sports ever since she was a young girl. She gained confidence from her athleticism. What I love about Amanda (aside from the fact that she is a badass Olympic athlete) is that she encourages young women to find something they are good at and use it as a foundation for self-esteem, just as she as done with hammer throw.
I have two sons. Not gonna lie, it’s exhausting. My three year old has endless energy, which will double as soon as his little brother starts walking. But... my “boy mom” friends and I joke about how even though we have it rough now, the adolescent years will be a breeze compared to what our friends with daughters will deal with. We know that our sons will probably never flip through a magazine and be left wondering if they are skinny enough or pretty enough... and that’s just the tip of the gender-stereotype iceberg.
The point is, I agree with Amanda. I think we should work especially hard to encourage girls to discover their talents. The sad fact is that we have to teach them that they are so much more than their height, weight, or perfectly styled hair because they will be bombarded with images and messages that say otherwise.
Amanda is one woman leading the way in this conversation. We caught up with her recently and asked her about her athletic ascent and how she has been handling her newfound role as “body image spokesperson”.
Fashletics: Did you plan on becoming an ambassador of body positivity or was it a "happy accident"?
Amanda: Just a lucky, crazy, happy accident. I could have never imagined this would have turned out to be what it is, but who am I to just slap this fortunate blessing in the face.
F: How have you been using your status as any Olympic athlete/cover model to help combat body shaming?
A: I think me just talking about body shaming and saying it in a different way helps. I have been saying the same stuff my entire life, but ever since the Body issue came out people give a damn about what I have to say. And what I think helps is the fact that I don't care what people say about me. I have no problem saying what is on my mind whether it hurts people's feelings or makes them feel uncomfortable. I think it is primal and embarrassing that we have accepted every type of race, religion, sexual preference, and lifestyle, but we cannot fathom the thought that in the most culturally diverse country we have different body types. But like I said, I have been saying this forever. Just now people are listening.
F: Is speaking out about body image something you plan to continue to do as you compete and train?
A: I am a very open person and have no issue with talking about the thing we shouldn't talk about in public. I am an athlete first and foremost, that is my main focus, but if I can spread the word and help others in the process then absolutely.
F: Describe the "ideal" hammer thrower body and how it differs from the way media typically portrays athletes.
A: What's AWSOME about the hammer is there is no ideal body type. If you look up the best hammer throwers in the world they don't share anything physically in common. Some are short (like me), some are tall, some are 275 lbs, and some are as small as 150 lbs, but we are all competing at the same level. The way the media sees us is embarrassing for them because they could not be more wrong. Most times the media sees female throwers like Miss Trunchbull from Matilda.
F: What do you love most about your sport?
A: I love the individuality of it. It is unlike a team where you can play the best game of you life and still lose or just can slack off and your teammate can carry you to the win. With track and individual sports there is no hiding. I rise and fall on my own and it makes me more accountable.
F: What do you love most about your body?
A: I love everything, but my eyes, boobs and traps are my favorite.
F: You are a very confident woman when it comes to your body. Did you always have this confidence?
A: No. I don't think anyone is always confident. I just got to the point were I was tired of giving a damn what other people thought of me.
I stopped trying to fit into this small-minded idea of social standards that people were obsessed with. I found something I was good at and got confidence from that.
F: How does being involved in sports help develop body confidence?
A: It just gives you an out. You can take your frustrations out on the field or in the weight room. Getting a sweat going makes you feel like you have accomplished something healthy and it impacts how you eat later that day or how you feel about yourself. If I win I feel great, but if I lose it makes me go back and train harder. I don't like to lose.
F: Tell me a little about your experience with the #plusisequal campaign.
A: For me it was so weird to see what people think the word plus is. I mean when Wendy Williams took the stage she made a comment that she was 150l pounds like that was a lot. And I just thought in my mind “damn that is so tiny”. By talking with the [plus-sized] women that were out there I realized that for the most part they just want to be accepted. They don’t want it to be a shock to society when they say they are happy with themselves and love their body.
Why is it a shock that I am confident and happy with myself being 5'6" at 210lbs? Because according to media tabloids I should be embarrassed and go hide in a dark ally way because a piece of paper says I am morbidly obese?
#plusisequal is exactly what it should be like - we want the same clothing options as the size 00-08’s. We need the fashion industries to get off their high horse and make clothes for everyone.
F: It seems like your parents have always been extremely supportive. On top of that you have natural talent. What do you say to the young women who do not have that type of support system, or have not found their talent/passion?
A: I am very fortunate for the support I have, but, I honestly believe no one is going to help you more than you. Everyone can come up with something they enjoy doing. For me it was competing. Not just in sports but in everything. My cousin enjoyed making cupcakes and he made it onto cupcake wars. My other friend found that she was really good at making cheese balls and so now she does that on the side of her real job and loves it.
The friends you pick and surround yourself with should be the types that support you in what you want to do. You can’t pick your family, but friends are the family you can pick.
F: Lastly, what do you enjoy doing outside of training and competing?
A: I love just sitting around talking and hanging with friends. Give me a bonfire, a six-pack, and some good country tunes with my dog under the stars I am the happiest girl ever. But playing golf, going shooting, and living the simple life is always a good time.
As our Fashlete of the Month Amanda is receiving a charm with the words of her choice. Amanda’s charm is also available for purchase in our “Pep Talk” Collection. She chose the words “Be Better”.
A: It's not very nice, but I always tell myself to "be better" whether I'm training or just trying to make it through the day. If something has me down and pissed I just tell myself I am better than the problem and it can't get to be because I will "be better" than that.