ESPN the Magazine‘s Body Issue is heralded for its artistic portrayal of the physical form, and their latest installment is no exception.
On the cover, WNBA player Candace Parker and NBA star Tyson Chandler pose in the buff with basketballs in tow.
In the editorial, Candace opens up about body image, pregnancy, and loving your flaws. Check out excerpts:
On posing for the Body Issue:
I thought it would be fun and a great opportunity, especially since last time I was on the cover, I was pregnant. It’s nice to see the body transform. I hope I can send a message that if you work hard, you can come back just as good as before.
On pregnancy changing her as an athlete:
It made me stronger. I know what goes into every muscle and all the work I put into getting back. I didn’t just work out after I gave birth; I worked out during my whole pregnancy to have a base. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I actually played a couple games while I was pregnant, so I had a great base in terms of being in shape and at a good weight. When I found out I was pregnant, I set goals, and my husband helped me change my eating habits. I can eat whatever I want normally, but that changes when you’re pregnant. So my husband helped me stay healthy, and I worked out four or five times a week, did the elliptical, walked my dog, just stayed extremely active.
On growing to love her body:
Growing up, I could never find jeans because my legs were too long. I was growing every day; jeans would turn into capris. It was tough to be 12 or 13 and 6’2″ and a girl, but I had great role models and women in sports to look up to and see that you can be an athlete but at the same time be beautiful and wear nice clothes. Now that I’m older and able to find clothes that fit, I think my legs are the thing I’m most okay with. And my husband is 6’9″, so I can wear heels, which is always nice.
On body struggles:
After I had my daughter, I struggled with weight and maintaining strength in my legs. I couldn’t get my legs strong enough. My body type is on the skinny side, so it’s hard to balance lifting weights and getting stronger with maintaining an athletic weight and mobility. It’s really hard to put on that weight because we play year-round and are basically running and moving all day. Another challenge is making sure I put the right things in my body. I have a sweet tooth, so if it were up to me, I would eat dessert every night after 10. I love yellow cake with white icing, apple pie, ice cream … now I’m getting hungry.
On whether she’s self-conscious about her body:
I was self-conscious about my height, but my mom and dad always told me to hold my shoulders back and be proud to be tall because everybody didn’t have that advantage. They said, “Later in life you will appreciate your height,” and I do. My brothers always told me, “Being tall is being beautiful,” so I had great people boosting my self-esteem.