This Olympic Hammer Thrower's Body Confidence Is Badass

U.S. track and field hammer thrower Amanda Bingson didn't know that others thought of her as "fat" until a boy applied the adjective to her when she was in middle school. "I had always been so athletic and into sports; I didn't think I was that fat," she shared with ESPN in their 2015 Body Issue, which includes six cover stories that feature Bingson and other elite athletes posing nude and getting intimate in interviews. "But everybody wants to fit that skinny, ideal picture that we see on billboards all the time, and people would always remind me that that wasn't me. So you just grow a thick skin."

Not only does Bingson have a thick skin, she also has a work ethic and body that won her the female American record for hammer-throwing in 2013, when she threw 248 feet. The 5'5", 210-pound 25-year-old says she has protein and handstands to thank for her success: "I'm a protein junkie," she told ESPN. "And so I came up with all of these different ways to put protein in everything. It's unflavored, so I'll put a full scoop into my mashed potatoes and just mix it up." As for the handstands, well, "If I want to throw far, I'll do a handstand," Bingson explained. "It gets the blood up to my head, and it helps me get a little amped. We don't really have crowds when we compete, so you really have to get yourself going."

Bingson's greatest weapon, however, may be her total confidence. "I'll be honest; I like everything about my body," she declared. "You might be prettier and skinnier than me, but I'll kick your ass in a game of one-on-one." The enthusiastic response to Bingson's unapologetic self-assurance confirms how keen we are to see bodies celebrated for what they can do, rather than how closely they adhere to prevailing beauty standards.

And, especially now that the elite athlete is even more visible than she was before, we're doubting she'll have to resort to handstands to simulate the energy of a watching crowd when she competes in the upcoming Olympics. (On the other hand, why mess with a proven pump-up trick? We may not be able to throw like Bingson, but you just might find us doing handstands in the bathroom before our next big meeting.)

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