Posted February 17, 2015 by Sydnie Jones in News

Ronda Rousey on body image: “Strong and healthy is the new sexy.”

UFC women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey is featured in Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Swimsuit Issue, an inclusion reserved primarily for supermodels. But, Rousey says in a behind the scenes video (embedded below), “I didn’t have a moment’s hesitation, I was so happy to have this opportunity because, yeah, I really do believe that there shouldn’t just be one cookie cutter body type that everyone is aspiring to be.

“I hope that the impression that everyone that sees the nex SI swimsuits issue is that strong and healthy is the new sexy. And that the standard of women’s bodies is going into a realistic and socially healthy direction.”

In keeping with with that hope, Rousey spoke to For The Win about gaining weight for the shoot. “I purposely tried to get a little bit heavier for the SI issue so I was a little bit curvier and not in top fight shape look but the look at which I feel I’m the most attractive. It’s very natural for a person’s body to go through seasons.”

After posting pictures from the issue on social media, Rousey shared a video on Instagram of what she’s “really up to.”

Rousey has spoken before about dealing with her own body image issues when she was younger. When she posed for Sports Illustrated’s Body Issue in 2012, she said, “when I was in school, martial arts made you a dork, and I became self-conscious that I was too masculine. I was a 16 year old with cauliflower ears. People made fun of me and called me “Miss Man.” It wasn’t until I got older that I realized: These people are idiots. I’m fabulous.”

To For the Win, Rousey further discusses how societal expectations of women impacted her:

“The media directed at men with women is what women pay attention to the most. When it came to what standard I gave myself growing up and what I thought that I should look like, I was looking at the women that I could see the men I wanted found attractive,” she said. “I thought if this is what the guys I like like, then I should look like that. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue wasn’t like Playboy or all those others. It wasn’t so fake and plastic.

“They always seemed to use a lot more real women and as the years have gone on, I think that has increased and really affected how people perceive women and what they should look like. They use all kinds of body types and use real women, not genetic freakish gazelles of people that look beautiful, but it’s a very small percentage of the population that looks like that.

“The ESPN Body Issue is about celebrating the peak of human potential and the kind of form the human body, when specialized, can really look like. The Swimsuit Issue has a lot more [of a] sexual side to it, while I don’t think the Body Issue is overtly sexual whereas Sports Illustrated is,” Rousey said. “The difference in how I approached it is when I posed for ESPN Body, I really tried to be a lot more cut and a lot more close to my prime fighting shape because I was being photographed as a fighter and trying to look more like a fighter.”

The behind the scenes video:

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