On July 6th, ESPN the Magazine releases its eighth edition of the ‘Body Issue’ for online consumption — July 8 for those of you who still enjoy picking up a hard copy. While more than 16 athletes will be represented in the issue, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade has the honor of gracing the cover for the first time in his career despite having several opportunities to take the plunge in the past.
The reason Wade turned ESPN down before without hesitation? It’s only now, at age 34, that he feels comfortable stepping outside of his comfort zone.
“To me, doing the ‘Body Issue’ is bigger than looking at an athlete’s body,” explains Wade. “It’s more about the story we are telling of overcoming my fear of doing this. I had a fear of being naked in front of others and a fear of being judged. So to me, overcoming that is the biggest thing. Someone may look at me and think, ‘Why would you have insecurity?’ Well, this is real life and I’m human, and these are the things that I deal with that many others might deal with.”
Wade told ESPN that he never wanted to take his shirt off as a kid because his belly button was an outie. He didn’t want to take part in swimming class, either, because his feet were “a little rougher” as an athlete than others. It was only four years ago that Wade felt comfortable with his body, and he now feels an obligation to represent others with similar insecurities.
“I don’t even view my belly button now. I make jokes sometimes when I’m doing an interview or taking a photo and I’ll say, ‘I’m making the outies cool.’ I’m representing for all the kids out there who have the outies.”
Some of the other athletes joining Wade in the magazine: USWNT star Christen Press, UFC fighter Conor McGregor, Houston Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne. Team USA’s Chris Mosier will also make history by becoming the first transgender athlete to appear in the issue.