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Basketball player Liz Cambage first noticed there were different rules about men’s and women’s bodies when she was just a little girl growing up in Australia.
“I could never understand why I had to cover up my full body, but boys could be at the beach in just Speedos or boxers,” she told HuffPost last week.
Now, the 29-year-old centre for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces is challenging that double standard in an interview for Playboy, which was released Tuesday.
“I think breasts are the most beautiful things in the world — we literally feed our children with them,” Cambage said. “At the end of the day, it’s just fatty tissue and a nipple. Everyone has nipples, so I never understood why we have to cover up our whole bodies, as it’s men that oversexualise [women].”
A longtime fan of Playboy, Cambage is especially impressed with how the magazine has evolved in recent years to give women control over how they are seen.
“I always found it incredibly bold for women to be proud of their bodies and to put themselves out there,” she said. “I think now, compared to back in the day, Playboy is more about empowering women and letting them tell their story and being photographed how they want.”
Cambage, who was the No. 2 draft pick for the WNBA in 2011 and is sitting out this season due to a medical exemption, says feeling that empowerment herself while being photographed reminded her of her personal journey with body positivity.
“At 15, I was showering with grown women in change rooms after basketball practice, which is where I learned to accept my body, flaws and all, at a very young age,” she said. “I got to see other women’s bodies, how different we are and how beautiful we all are.”
Still, Cambage admits that as content as she feels with who she is and how she looks, there are times when she struggles with confidence.
“When it came to my sexuality as a teenager, I was scared to put myself out there with boys because I was always bigger and taller than them,” she said. “I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to that part of my life ... and still today I don’t make the first move, I wait until they make it with me. I know in my head that’s just my self-confidence. Even as a 29-year-old, 6-foot, 8-inch woman, I still have confidence issues when it comes to men, but maybe it will change in my 30s!”
In the meantime, Cambage has some advice for how she and everyone else can level up their body positivity.
“I want everyone to remember, girl or boy, that we are in this vessel for a reason,” she said. “We are us for a reason and the body that we have been given is amazing. This is our home. You can renovate, you can paint the walls, you can make your home better, but at the end of the day, the structures and the walls ― that’s you. That’s who you are. You can build upon it, you can make it stronger, and you can also tear it down with negative thoughts and images, but at the end of the day everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way.”
Check out the entire spread at Playboy.