Australian WNBA basketballer Liz Cambage has posed for Playboy and used the platform to talk about loving her "powerful" body and growing up as a woman of colour in Australia.
Sharing pictures from the shoot on Instagram, Liz called the opportunity to pose for the magazine "a blessing and a honor 💖🐰".
"[T]his one goes out to anyone who isn't empowered or confident in their own skin and sexuality," she continued. "I spent so many years as a teenager hating myself, trying to shrink myself in to someone I'm not. I really do hope my self love can help inspire those struggling to love their reflection, because I promise you, you are beautiful and lovable just the way you are!!!"
In the accompanying interview, Liz offered that she's never embraced her sexuality in public, but she's interested in showing a "super girly" and feminine side of herself. "Me doing Playboy is me celebrating my sexuality like, 'Yeah, I am a straight, six-foot-eight woman who likes to have sex.' I'm a human; it's what we do. As a female athlete, I feel like I'm not allowed to be sexy and I'm not allowed to be that person. All society wants from me is to sit down, shut up, go to training and play my sport."
Last year, Liz posed for ESPN's annual Body Issue, where athletes pose naked. She explained to Playboy that she felt the human body is "over-sexualised" in the US compared to in Australia.
"The feedback I got when I did the Body Issue was very interesting," she added. "People saw it as a very sexual thing, but to me, my body is powerful. We bring life into this world with our bodies. Yet we cover them up, when we're such powerful beings. I'm so proud of my skin. I'm so proud of my six-foot-eight body and everything I can do with it. Nudity has never really been a sexual thing to me. It's always just been who I am and the skin I was in."
Speaking to her first memory of loving herself, she said she first accepted her body in 19 when she was drafted to the WNBA. She described Australia as "whitewashed" and said she came to accept herself and her skin colour once she left the country.
Talking about the experience she shared with one of her best friends she's had since she was a teenager, Liz said: "Both being black girls raised in Australia, we wore coloured eye contacts, we bleached our hair, we straightened our hair. We wouldn't tan. We would do everything to shrink ourselves and make us more white. It wasn't until I moved to America that I started to really embrace my body and my skin color and who I really am."
"I'm happy that I'm blessed to be born the way I am," she concluded later in the interview.
Having been active in the Black Lives Matter movement both in Australia and abroad, Liz talked about how meaningful it is for so many athletes to be "using our platform for good right now".
"We need to keep pushing for change. We need more diversity. We need to be making more money . . . To have a platform like we do and do nothing is a crime in itself."
Hell yes, Liz!