07/13/14 by Rennie Detore
Prince Fielder donned his birthday suit for the latest edition of the annual ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue," but no one seems to be celebrating his bold move.
Fielder doesn't boast the prototypical body type for professional athletes. He doesn't have a six pack set of abs or appears as though he is chiseled from granite. Instead, Fielder sports a physique that seems ordinary, aside from his massive, muscular thighs, rather under the bright lights of the national spotlight that is Major League Baseball, or any other league for that matter.
Fielder isn't apologizing for the photo shoot and has admitted that some of his teammates have given him a little "good natured" ribbing for his pictures within the magazine. But what is more shocking than Fielder appearing naked on the cover of a national magazine is the outpouring of negativity from fans and readers alike who are quick to poke fun at Fielder's frame and using harsh, unbecoming words to describe him.
Fielder undoubtedly is used to criticism as a professional athlete. There's no doubt that his move from the Detroit Tigers to the Texas Rangers has been a bust for the latter team. Fielder is hurt now, and he's rehabbing his neck after surgery. The 2014 season will go down as a disappointment for Fielder and Rangers' fans who expected more out of the hard hitting, home run socking Fielder. The criticism for Fielder on the field is totally justified.
Lashing out at the first baseman for how he looks is misguided angst and venom that centers on a topic that is remarkably touchy. Body image plagues plenty of people, both men and women, and concerns about appearance tend to lead to other, more serious ailments such as anorexia or bulimia or general self esteem issues, particularly in young women. Recent studies have shown that men aren't impervious to feeling ashamed about how they look and thus shouldn't be excluded from concern for this growing trend.
Someone like Fielder, a multi million dollar athlete, will likely fluff off the jokes and mean spirited chatting. The overall message being spewed in his direction, however, shows that society still isn't culturally embracing any and all types of bodies, regardless of their size and weight.
Those who want to argue that there is an obesity and overweight epidemic in the United States certainly bring up a fair and just point. That segment of the population is a danger to themselves from a health, fitness and wellness standpoint and often are taken to task. The difference is the message dealt to the overweight community is one of statistical reporting, often underscored with ways to combat it.
What Fielder, and undoubtedly others like him who operate in a much smaller spotlight, received was pure venom. He's a celebrity. He can take it.
But what about someone who hears that type of anger and hostility and doesn't have a 10 million dollar mansion to retreat to? Do you think those words might stick with them?
Truthfully, the pictures of Fielder are just fine. He looks normal. And instead of society lauding normalcy when it comes to bodies or healthy frames, it tends to make average seem irregular. That mentality hardly deserves to be justified.
It's cruel, hurtful and only serves to perpetuate the stigma that carrying around and average build somehow makes you fat.
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