Why It's So Important That ESPN Celebrates Bodies of All Kinds

ESPN the Magazine Body Issue covers
ESPN the Magazine unleashes its 8th annual Body Issue. (Image: ESPN the Magazine/Carlos Serrao, Peggy Sirota, Simon McDermott-Johnson, Marcus Eriksson, Mark Seliger, Peter Hapak)

Each year top athletes dare to bare all for ESPN the Magazine's Body Issue, a celebration of fitness and the human form. Many of this year's featured athletes have moved the party to social media, posting their favorite images from their naked photoshoots from the magazine's eighth annual Body Issue.

"The first time I saw ESPN's Body Issue, I knew I wanted to be in it," Olympic beach volleyball player April Ross told her Instagram followers. "At the same time, I REALLY thought I'd never get the chance. Like most, I've struggled with my body image. It's been years of cultivating a positive attitude, feeding the 'good wolf,' learning to fully accept my body despite any imperfections I might see, that has gotten me to this point. Our bodies are AMAZING."

In addition to Ross, the likes of Denver Broncos' Von Miller; surfer Courtney Conlogue; Chicago Cubs baseball player Jake Arrieta; UFC World Champion Conor McGregor; WNBA player Elena Delle Donne; triathlete Chris Mosier, the first transgender athlete to be featured; and 12 more elite athletes all dropped trou -- and all other items of clothing -- to grace the issue, which is now available to preview online.

"Thank you @espn #BodyIssue is outstanding this year!" said champion wrestler Adeline Gray, who heads to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August for her first Olympics. "Strong is beautiful. Dreams that push me every day make it possible to work as hard as I do, to give me this body I love is now on display."

ESPN the Magazine has compiled the images in its "Bodies We Want" gallery and released behind-the-scenes video on the Body Issue's page at ESPN.com. The issue hits newsstands on Friday, July 8, 2016.

2016 Body Issue Athletes

Nathan Adrian, Olympics/swimming

Emma Coburn, Olympics/steeplechase

Ryan Dungey, motocross

Adeline Gray, Olympics/wrestling

Greg Louganis, Olympics/diving

Here it is! My @espn #BodyIssue shot in all it's glory! 📸 : @richardphibbs

A photo posted by Greg Louganis (@greglouganis) on

Chris Mosier, duathlon

Nzingha Prescod, Olympics/fencing

April Ross, Olympics/beach volleyball

Allysa Seely, paratriathlete

Claressa Shields, Olympics/boxing

What Do YOU Think?

Are any of your favorite athletes included? Who would you like to see ESPN the Magazine feature in its Body Issue? Do you find these athletes' fit forms inspiring or intimidating?

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