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4 Body Positive Female Athletes Defying Standards

Confidence. It’s something that many US women lack and desire.

We look at images in the media of very narrow body standards making us feel like we aren’t accepted. But what about the images we don’t usually see?

The images of women of all different shapes and sizes kicking butt and fighting bad guys. Okay–maybe they’re not fighting criminals but they’re definitely defying the haters.

Check out these incredible female athletes. Crushing goals as well as standards.

Amanda Lacount

Image via Christine Bisquera Photography

If you aren’t already been following her on instagram, this 17 year old professional dancer is about to blow your mind.

Amanda’s passion for dance illuminates through her precise moves, making it impossible to not want to get up and dance yourself. The 17 year old makes difficult choreography look so easy, clearly putting in hours of training to do so.

As a professional, she dances “at a minimum of 40-50 hours a week”. In addition to her popular instagram account, Amanda was recently featured in a performance of “This is Me” with Keala Settle on Ellen!

Her accomplishments as a young dancer have defied many peoples expectation of her. “I have been told by peers, parents, dance teachers, choreographers, studio owners, strangers, and even Richard Simmons that I was too fat to be a dancer and would never make it to LA.” Amanda reports.

“My goal is to inspire others to follow their dreams and not worry about what other people may say or think…That’s why I started my movement #breakingthestereotype.”

Amanda truly is breaking the stereotype. The dance world tends to favor a very narrow range of body types as they believe this standard is more visually appealing and physically capable of performing such rigorous tasks.

But Amanda’s passion and skills is #breakingthestereotype that only certain body types can dance.

“People come in all shapes and sizes” She says, “I recently had a full physical and am 100% healthy. I have NEVER had a dance injury. Even in pointe I never even had a blister. When the haters tell me I’m too fat to be an athlete, I ask them when they told their favorite football player that he needed to lose weight. Society and media has convinced everyone that to be beautiful you must be tall, skinny, blonde. It just isn’t true.”

When asked what she would tell other young athletes struggling with criticism towards their bodies, Amanda responded, “If you work hard and pour your heart into what you’re doing you will be successful in one way or another and you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did your absolute best.”

Erin Clark

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfo4YaO1mDU

Erin Clark is an adaptive athlete who took up pole dancing a few years ago on a whim. Before pole, she was an aerial dancer specializing in ropes and silks for seven years.

She was also born with a spinal defect, requiring her to rely on a wheelchair. She even performs with it on stage.

“My disability doesn’t undermine my athleticism, it is my athleticism.” She tells bodypositivity.com. “I compete with my disability, it’s the key part of what I do.”

As an adaptive athlete, Erin has to figure out how to perform standard pole moves in the way that her body allows her. She explains that as an adaptive athlete there is nothing to ‘overcome’, her physical limitations will always exist. It’s what she does with her abilities that makes her such a skilled athlete.

I have always been attentive to the comfort of my body and sought it out. I move it and use it in ways that make me feel good.”

She notes that in order to be attentive to her body, understanding pain and discomfort is important.

I don’t think any body is designed for constant positive feeling. Pain is one of the body’s necessary functions. And we have so little control over our bodies. But we can cultivate awareness and presence. We can use our bodies for things that are meaningful to us, which invites us to inhabit ourselves more and more deeply in order to access those experiences more fully.”

Watching her swing and lift herself up and down the pole, it’s difficult to deny Erin’s athleticism. However, she notes that other peoples perspective of her disability can undermine her athleticism, even when well-intended.

I encounter this most frequently in the attitude that my athletic accomplishments are proof that I have ‘overcome’ my disability, and therefore my performance is an example that there are no limits, and if I can do it, anyone can.”

“All bodies are a constellation of weaknesses and strengths…Don’t be a afraid of decline or limits.”

Eda Marbury

http://www.pictame.com/user/edasclimb/589904679/1358285313923192592_589904679

Eda Marbury is a plus-size pole dancer, defying odds everyday. A few years ago, Eda started pole dancing in an effort to become more physically active. What she got from it was so much more than expected.

In an exclusive interview with Barcroft TV, Eda states that pole-dancing has made her so much more confident in her body and life.

“Pole dancing completely changed my confidence. It showed me that even at my size that I can be strong and sexy.” She told bodypositivity.com.

Eda proves that she is strong and sexy every time she gets on the pole. Her execution of choreography is filled with strength, flexibility, grace, and confidence.

Eda says that by entering the gym everyday, she defies the standard of what society believes pole dancers look like. “Just by showing up and putting in the work to prove that I’m worth it to myself, it shows that I’m worth it to others.”

Although Eda’s confidence has grown, she acknowledges that it’s a process. “I have learned that you have to work at it everyday or anytime that you need to and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

“It is important for everyone to accept their appearance because there is only one you and you are important. Everyone is unique for a reason, it’s beautiful and should be celebrated.”

Amanda Bingson

Meet Amanda Bingson, Olympic Hammer Thrower who broke an American female record in 2013. You may also recognize her from being on the cover of ESPN’s body issue.

Her athleticism, love for her sport, and incredible personality has inspired many young female athletes to push themselves in their sport.

Amanda has always been an athlete, but committed to Track & Field freshman year of high school. “It was between track & field and softball and I say to myself, be around girls all day after school or half naked guys throwing things? Not a hard choice.” She jokes.

Watching Amanda speak and compete, it’s clear she is one confident person. She’s always ready to challenge herself on the field despite what obstacles come her way.

Amanda reports that knowing your worth in life is important. She also notes how accomplishments should impact your life. She shared with bodypositivity.com that successes “impact your day-to-day [life]” and that her successes have “made [her] carry [herself] with a sense of accomplishment and pride.”

When asked about what advice she’d give to other female athletes, she said, “Everyone is so different especially here in the US where there are so many cultures and body types. Being the best you is different than the best me. It’s all in what you do with you body.”

About Stephanie Voytek