Representation of the Grotesque Body in ESPN The Magazine’s Body 2014: Prince Fielder

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Pocratsky, Briana L
Photography; Sports Studies
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In October 2009, ESPN The Magazine launched its first special edition magazine titled The Body Issue (rebranded as simply Body as of the 2014 edition) in which athletes are featured partially nude or completely nude in order to celebrate the spectrum of athletic forms present in different types of sport. While all of the still images presented in the special editions are candidates for a textual analysis, this presentation focuses on the most recent Body issue in which Major League Baseball player Prince Fielder graces one of the six alternative magazine covers and is featured inside the magazine. The photographs of Fielder challenge dominant media narratives regarding “grotesque” identities (fat, tattooed, etc. bodies) as Fielder is considered a “f/athlete” (fat athlete) and is heavily tattooed. The photographs encourage the audience to consider Fielder’s body as a desirable athletic form. Essentially, Fielder disrupts a number of hegemonic binaries and stereotypes with the photographs. This essay examines how the photographs of Fielder in Body 2014 challenge dominant media narratives in sport and how the audience received and reacted to the images of Fielder.