Any gender-aware person who watches sports know that female athletes occupy a space in our society where their skill is both revered and ridiculed. From criticisms of their body being too masculine to the notion that women'S sports aren't real sports, there is all sorts of judgment passed on successful female athletes that their male counterparts rarely, if ever, experience.
But some supremely badass female athletes are kicking those tired, antiquated stereotypes to the curb. With the power of social media at their fingertips, they prove that they are fully comfortable in their own skin, naysayers be damned.
1. Serena Williams
Throughout her career, Williams has been subjected to countless negative remarks about her body. But the world's greatest female tennis player has other matters to attend to, such as showing everyone that #StrongIsBeautiful.
2. Jen Welter
This kickass athlete made history when she became the first ever female coach in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals.
She's also incredibly eloquent and self-aware. When speaking about her hiring, she said, "Until we pick up and show women that are doing things because they're awesome and not just because they're pretty — how else will they judge themselves? And pretty is a standard very few people can live up to because it's perfection, it's Photoshop, it's Instagram, it's filters. I know I love the saying 'I woke up like this,' but I promise you, I don't wake up like that. Very few of us do."
3. Venus Williams
When sister and sometimes-rival Serena's body became the subject of a questionable New York Times article, the older sibling told Cosmopolitan that she always asked what her body could do for her, as opposed to how she looks.
"I've always been happy with my body," she said. "Of course I want to look well and fit — and as an athlete, I want to look strong. I want my opponents to look at me across the net and just not want [to] play me because I look so fit and amazing and strong. So that's always my goal."
4. Ronda Roussey
Ronda Rousey has won our hearts so many times, it's hard to know where to start.
Maybe when she knocked out her opponent in 34 seconds at the Ultimate Fighting Championship? How about when she told off her critics for criticizing her body for being "too masculine?" Or was it when she bared it all about her relationship with food and her weight that made us understand that, like the rest of us, she's only human?
5. Amanda Bingson
The USA Track & Field hammer thrower made the cover of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue this year.
In the interview, she said, "Generally when you look at athletes, you see their muscles and all that stuff; I don't have any of that ... I'm just dense. I think it's important to show that athletes come in all shapes and sizes."
6. Misty Copeland
Ballerinas are known to have svelte, lithe bodies.
But Misty Copeland, the American Ballet Theater's first African-American female principal dancer, blew that notion out of the water.
She's Black, curvy and muscular, and her outspokenness on race and body shaming is raising awareness both within and outside the ballet world about diversity.
7. Amanda Douglas
This CrossFit Games athlete opened up to BuzzFeed about her loving her "bulky" body.
"I have really big thighs and I love them now," she said. "I used to be like, 'Oh, they're so big,' but now I know what that means — it means a new personal record."
8. Dallas Friday
Wakeboarder Dallas Friday went from gymnastics to wakeboarding when she was a teen, but admitted that she felt "a little self-conscious" during the transition.
"There's not a huge difference going from a leotard to a bathing suit, but you'd see these beautiful girls in bikinis, and I'm only 13 or 14 years old with this buff little body," she told ESPN The Magazine for its Body Issue. "I grew into being really proud of it, knowing that that's what has enabled me to do what I do."
9. Brittney Griner
Much has been said about the WNBA star's athletic body. But Griner prides herself in her "athletically lanky" build.
"My big arms, my bigger hands, these long legs — I love being different," she told ESPN The Magazine. "If everybody was the same, it'd be a boring-*ss world."
10. Chantae McMillian
McMillian bared it all for ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue, too, and the Olympic heptathlete openly talked about her love for her muscular body and embracing her visible scars.