The ESPN Body Issue… Where do you stand?

Published by Jonny Nelson on


Lately all the big action sports magazines and every other news outlet has been posting about ESPN Magazine’s latest: the Body Issue featuring 30 top professional athletes posing in their element naked. Action sports athletes Jamie Anderson, Coco Ho, Travis and Lyn-z Pastrana, Amy Purdy and Nigel Sylvester appear in the magazine posing and riding naked. This is the 6th year ESPN has run this issue of the magazine to celebrate the athlete’s body no matter the shape or size.

Most herald the ‘tastefully’ shot photos as promoting a healthy, naked and unashamed positive body image. Yet there are others that call the images into question. Everyone knows the Body Issue is about increasing viewers for ESPN magazine, but the question still stands, where is the line?

Where is the line between tasteful art and pornography? Is this celebrating a healthy and positive body image or is it promoting the sexualisation of our culture?

There are arguments from both sides. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed before sin entered the world (Gen2:25). Most athletes in the first Olympic games in ancient Greece competed completely naked. There is loads of nude art throughout history, many of which are depictions of Biblical scenes. God created our bodies beautifully and we should not be ashamed of them completely naked. Jamie Anderson, a female professional snowboarder featured on the cover of the magazine said, “it was really good practice for me to accept everything about myself and love my body and not judge the little things that we do as women or anyone and just embrace where I’m at.” For her it became about having a healthy body image which is a good and positive thing. Pornography is about creating sexual arousal whereas nude art is not.

Yet we all know its not okay to play frisbee naked in the city park. Jamie Anderson also shared her initial feelings about the nude shoot, “I’ve never done any naked shoots or even bikini shoots so it was new for me to do that… At first I was a little bit terrified.” There is a general understanding that nakedness is meant to be private. Leviticus 18 lays out some crystal clear rules on nakedness. 1 Timothy 2:9 says women should have “respectable apparel, with modesty” (ESV). 1 Corinthians 12:23 talks about how our “unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty.” A naked woman or naked man on the cover of a magazine provokes sexual curiosity and ignites lust. Jesus calls lust the same as adultery in Matthew 5:28, which is sin and wrong.

Clearly there is a difference between a porn magazine like Playboy and ESPN’s Body Issue, but the question still remains; where is the line? Has The Body Issue crossed it? Are we masking our desire for sexual freedom with having a healthy body image or are we hiding in our insecurities by being too legalistic? Will you allow your son or daughter to read ESPN’s magazine? Would you want your son or daughter posing in the magazine? Is it too sexual or is it perfectly healthy? Is it right or wrong? Why?

Where do you stand on this? Comment and share your thoughts…


1 Comment

a will · August 23, 2014 at 10:15 pm

I have not seen the inside of the magazine but since the current issue has come out Venus Williams has been posted up on the ESPN website. So I have seen her advertising this current issue. That got me asking the question, what is up with this magazine. From the outside looking in because I have no plans of buying the magazine I would say even if the pictures are artful in nature it is a creation of our culture an its intent is sexual; not artful or even promoting a healthy life style because our culture is sexualized. If it was to promote a healthy lifestyle maybe Prince Fielder would be up on the website promoting and not Venus. Someone may correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t recall seeing any dudes promoting the magazine on the ESPN website. There are also several sites commenting on this subject but none that I have seen have any issue with the nudity and most don’t say anything about it being art. Personally I don’t think healthy when seeing a naked woman and i doubt that women think the same when looking at a naked man. Unless they are leading us to want guys to look at the men and women the women. Wow that’s is a whole other subject.

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