The football files: Hope Solo in ESPN The Magazine Body Issue

From the vault: October 2011

Hope Solo bares (almost) all for the 2011 Body Issue of ESPN The Magazine (an annual special issue begun two years earlier in response to a slump in magazine advertising revenue).

hopebody5

Solo is neither the first nor the last member of the U.S. women’s team to appear in the Body Issue.

Natasha Kai, a forward on the national team from 2006 to 2009, is in the debut 2009 issue.

ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine

Abby Wambach is in the 2012 issue.

And Sydney Leroux is in last year’s.

But for some reason — maybe just because she’s Hope Solo — her appearance is the most controversial.

In this interview with ESPN, Solo explains her reasons:

Why pose for the Body Issue?

Growing up, I felt insecure about my build. I didn’t feel very feminine. But as time went on, I learned to completely embrace my body. It’s helped me attain all my dreams and goals. I didn’t have an issue posing nude, because now I see my body as empowering.

In 2008, I was maybe the fittest I had ever been, and we won the gold medal. I started to see the connection between my body and my accomplishments. I couldn’t have been a great goalkeeper without power, agility and quickness.

ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine

Have you ever felt self-conscious?

I’m 30, and it’s only in the last four years that I’ve embraced my figure. When I was younger I was a complete tomboy. Then in college I started emerging out of the tomboy stage and dressing differently. It was like, “Hey, I have a very athletic-looking body.”

ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine

I used to be self-conscious mostly about my arms and shoulders — they’re so broad, people assumed I was a swimmer or a volleyball player. It was difficult for me to wear a halter dress or a small tank top; I thought the first things people would see were my arms and shoulders. I remember trying to get out of lifting weights in college because I didn’t want to bulk up. I would do more reps to avoid putting on too much muscle mass. Or I would skip certain power exercises like cleans — I always tried to get out of cleans — and dead lifts. But now, it’s my arms and my shoulders that I’m most proud of. I appreciate my athletic look.

ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine

When did you first learn that you had become a sex symbol?

I still don’t buy the idea that I’m a “sex symbol.” It’s amazing that there are so many beautiful bodies out there on the female athletic side, and it’s great that they are starting to get attention. But sex symbol? I don’t know where that came from. My entire purpose is trying to be the best in the game, and if that exudes beauty too, that’s pretty powerful. It means the image of the typical female body type is finally evolving.

Confidence goes a long way. I’ve had marriage proposals, invitations to military balls and even a few prom offers from 18-year-old boys. In New York City after the World Cup, this kid literally got on his knees in the middle of the street and asked me to prom. He handed me a piece of paper with his phone number, honestly thinking I would really go to a high school prom. I didn’t want to break his heart — I thought it was very sweet — so I let him down lightly. I told him he could ask me again in 10 years.

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