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Amanda Beard Talks About Being Naked

(By Alessandro Bianchi - Reuters)

I missed the big unveiling of Amanda Beard's ad for PETA this week, the ad in which she's not wearing any clothes. This marks Beard's second prominent journey into public nakedness, after last year's Playboy appearance. I got in touch with Beard while she was in the Athletes Village on Friday, to talk about nakedness, vegetarianism, accusations of hypocricy and the possibility of being distracted by political causes.

Protesting against fur does not carry the same overtones as protesting against Darfur investment, I suppose, but I did ask Beard why so many athletes here seem reluctant to take a stand about anything this month.

"I guess you've got to grow some [fortitude] and stand up for what you believe in sometimes," she said. Except she didn't say [fortitude].

The full conversation is below, and in the interest of full disclosure, I'll say yet again that I'm a vegetarian who only buys leather in extremely rare cases and who considers Tofurkey to be one of humankind's greatest triumphs.

I feel like every time you cross into the realm of sports blogs, it's because you're getting naked.

Well that kind of throws up a little bit of drama

Are you actually naked right now?

No, I am not right now. [Laughing] I'm actually in the cafeteria having breakfast. That probably wouldn't be too appropriate

Why do you keep doing these naked things?

Um, I don't know. I've only done two things in my whole 26 years of life. I don't think that's THAT many. I guess I save it for special things, special events, things that I'm passionate about.

Do you think it's helped your Q rating among 22-year old men?

Probably, but that's not my reasoning for usually doing that stuff. Like with Playboy, that was more of a personal reason. I wanted to do it, I thought it'd be fun and something I could look back on. And with PETA it was more for a good cause. And I'm not even really naked, I'm covering myself up, so I didn't see all the fuss in that.

You really didn't see all the fuss?

No. You don't really see anything at all.

Do you read all the stuff that gets written about you on the Internet and in newspapers?

Well, sometimes, but usually not. I don't really care too much. I don't want to hear any negative talk about things. I read some articles and some news, and right now where we are in the Olympic Village it's hard to get on the Internet and check things out. I'm pretty secluded, I have no idea what people are saying.

What do other athletes say about it? Do they say anything to you?

I mean, yeah, definitely. Certain reporters have asked for me to comment on other peoples' comments and I've declined to do that because that's not really my place. I don't care what people are saying. But yeah, my teammates say things, but they're usually very positive, because they get to talk to me first-hand, they know why I do certain things and they know my personality. They get it a little bit more.

What about your family members?

Oh, my family loves it. My family gets a hoot out of all the crap that I do. They have a blast. They love reading all the stuff and getting into it. So yeah, my family's pretty cool, they're real laid back people and they have fun with it.

Do they get naked a lot?

[Laughing] Not that I know of.

Ok, so the PETA thing.....are you actually a vegetarian?

Yes. Yes I am

How long have you been a vegetarian?

It's been a very gradual thing over the last probably nine months, so it's very new. It's more of [meat being] phased out of my system, because personally I was getting really grossed out with all of it. I started learning more, I started working with PETA: It was kind of a gradual learning experience.

What do you mean 'grossed out?'

I'd be eating a turkey sandwich and literally have to stop eating it and take out all the turkey because I'd start gagging. It'd be gross to me, I don't know why. Gross.

Growing up, as a kid, did you evere feel the same way?

My sister's been a vegetarian for, let's see, like 18 years, and my other sister's a vegetarian, so I've been around this. I have a very passionate family about animals and the environment. It's nothing new for me or my family.

What have you been eating here?

Lots of carbohydrates. I was talking to one of our doctors and he said to get protein I can eat chocolate. I said, 'Ok, I do that anyway.' I still eat dairy products, so I eat cheeses and other dairy products.

What about tofu?

I do like tofu, but I don't like plain tofu, and that's all they have in the Olympic Village. We're kind of limited as to what's available to us.

No Kung Pao Tofu?

We don't have that. I like that, yeah.

Were you nervous about how being a vegetarian would affect your training?

Not at all. As long as I stay healthy and strong and fit, nothing can affect my training, and I've been doing fine so far.

A blog dug up some quotes from you talking about different leather items in your wardrobe. Did you see that?


What did you think?

I think it's kind of funny that people want to go back in time. I'm very candid with this: this is all a very new process for me and a learning experience for me. I haven't been a vegetarian or been working with PETA for my whole life. Having a vegan lifestyle and being anti-fur and being a vegetarian, those are all very different things, and it takes time to learn and to phase things out of your life. It's not an overnight thing that happens.

So you do still wear leather?

I don't have any leather with me or on my right now, no.

Did you bring any leather to China?

Not that I know of.

Do you think you'll get rid of your leather stuff?

I think it's all kind of a gradual process. As I learn more I'm becoming more aware, so yeah, definitely.

How about having a Tofurkey for Thanksgiving this year?

We always have a Tofurkey. For probably the last 15, 16 years, we always have a Tofurkey.

Will you move more into the animal rights world now?

Yeah. I've been doing things with helping dolphins, I've done a lot of work with sharks. I mean, I want to eventually get more and more involved. Unfortunately I don't have tons of time with the training, but if my schedule opens up I'd love to commit more time to that stuff.

I know this isn't one of the biggest controversies of the China Olympics, but I guess you were making a political stand of some kind, something that could be considered controversial. Why do you think so many athletes here seem so reluctant, or maybe scared, to say anything controversial?

I guess you've got to grow some balls and stand up for what you believe in sometimes.

Wow. Other athletes don't have that?

I don't know. Sometimes it IS hard to take the criticism that comes along with stating your opinion, because not everyone will [agree with] that opinion, so it's not an easy thing to do necessarily.

Do you plan on speaking out about anything else?


People always talk about protests being a distraction from their competition. Has it been distracting? Do you feel distracted?

I'm not distracted at all. I literally took about 10 minutes out of my day to do a little impromptu press conference, and the rest of the time I've been focusing on my training and swimming, and being rested and healthy. I'm completely focused on what I've come to China to do.

Maybe you made some of the male athletes distracted though?

Well that's their own fault. [Laughing.] That's their own problem.

Have you encouraged any other Olympic athletes to take off their clothes?

You know, I'm totally supportive of people who want to do what they want to do. Whether or not someone's comfortable to get naked or not, I don't care either way. It's totally a personal opinion. I don't really push my thoughts or opinions on people like that.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 8, 2008; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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What's with the comment section?

Thank you for commenting.

Your comment has been received and held for approval by the blog owner.

Need I say what I think is going on?

Posted by: sitruc | August 8, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

How did you miss the opportunity to ask her what she thinks of With Leather?

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | August 8, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

While I don't personally find PETA to be one of the best organizations out there, and am not personally into their mission etc, I do find it refreshing that she's willing to make this type of a stand given the timing etc. It absolutely takes a LOT of balls (and I've seen the pics, she doesn't have them "down there", unlike many Chinese "female" Olympians).

Posted by: ckstevenson | August 8, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I *heart* Amanda Beard's skin.

Posted by: 4-12 | August 8, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Next up: Jason Kidd comes out for Greenpeace.

I like Michael Jordan's example of not getting involved in this political crap. Athletes ought to just shut up.

Posted by: JDP | August 8, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

JDP buys sneakers too.

Posted by: | August 8, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I love how Dan won't write 'balls' but he will print it in the context of her quote.

Posted by: Incredulous | August 8, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

good stuff dude...

Posted by: littles | August 8, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"Athletes ought to just shut up."

That's right, they should just shuffle and toe the line and nod and smile and never, ever make waves.

Nonsense. Responsible citizens have not only the right but the obligation to address situations they feel need addressing. If you don't like it, you should follow your own example and shut up (or you would be a hypocrite, now, wouldn't you?). Then the rest of the adults can have a conversation.

Posted by: NYC | August 8, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

How come you didn't ask her about the events in which she is competing, Dan? Oh yeah, then you might have had to cut out one of your 12 questions about nakedness.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 8, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

wait, she's competing in an event?

more naked questions!

Posted by: duckman | August 8, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that’s pretty much how it all starts; being grossed out. As a result of growing those balls about two months ago, I’m proud to be a Lacto-ovo vegetarian…uh, ahem, leather is still a work in progress…but ~know~ that I’m not very happy wearing it – cute, but unhappy.

Posted by: Bridge | August 8, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Dan you a freak asking her in like five different ways about her nakedness…with that PG13 interview LMAO!

Posted by: Bridge | August 8, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"I'm totally supportive of people who want to do what they want to do ... I don't really push my thoughts or opinions on people like that."

Wait -- Isn't that what PETA is all about? Pushing its opinions on people and telling everybody what to do?

Pick a lifestyle, Amanda. Please.

Posted by: Oversneer | August 8, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

@StetSports: Thank you for getting the reference, by the way I'm a fan of your site as well.

@NYC: They have every right to speak out as citizens but when they are at the Olympics they are using their power of celebrity to push some cause. I share in the criticisms of China and Sudan, but athletes are just being used for their fame to make these arguments. Its the same reason why people are disgusted by celebs giving their political beliefs on elections. It just doesn't resound.

Posted by: JDP | August 8, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse


So... If I put a microphone in front you, hypothetically, and that microphone were attached to a camera, again hypothetically, and that camera was being to a hypothetical TV truck broadcasting a hypothetical world feed, and you knew that whatever you would use the microphone for would receive attention in a number of media circles...

...You would not use that opportunity to discuss an issue you care about?

Despite my personal opinions of misplaced viewpoints and lack of organizational quality in PETA, I also realize that to a number of people, including now Ms. Beard, PETA is not merely "some cause."

Posted by: B.A. | August 8, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the first half of my comment contains a very poor logical fallacy. Please ignore that portion of my comment (if it was approved).

You say that citizens have the right to speak out; however, you've also stated that "athletes ought to just shut up." I'd like to ask you why -- exclusively -- athletes should not be afforded the same privileges as the citizens.

Is it merely the nature of event at hand (in this case, the Olympics), and the reach such an event has on a population? In that case, would you feel more comfortable if an athlete spoke out at lesser events, like club practices, non-sports media events, or Saturday mornings in the offseason?

Do you feel that our athletes are not educated on the topics they profess an interest in? Do you think that athletes are adopting causes for a paycheck, or possibly have been "culted" into adopting a particular worldview?

Posted by: B.A. | August 8, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Sure athletes are citizens (except Jorge Julio who should be deported) and obviously have a right to speak their minds.

I just think all too often that either athletes or actors or whatever use their fame as a way to get on their soapbox. Its an inappropriate use of their fame. People adore them for their extraordinary athletic ability not their ability to pontificate on a complex issue.

Again its the same reason I don't pay to go see a concert and hear a musician start rambling about politics. Its annoying.

Lets keep politics to the proper venue, which is not the sports arena.

I don't think it has to do with what event it is Olympics or other, its inappropriate either way. And as far as education I have faith that they have a general understanding of the topics they speak about but again they are not the proper spokesperson.

Posted by: JDP | August 8, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

she is so ugly i cant stand it.

Posted by: awful | August 8, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I would ask then, if athletes have the right to speak their minds, what platform would be considered appropriate, or what issues would be considered too "complex" or "politicized", or rather what causes would be considered inappropriate uses of fame.

Since you mentioned actors, how do you feel about George Clooney, whose father is a journalist, speaking out against the current situation in Sudan? What about Luol Deng and Manute Bol, both born in Sudan, and their public outcry of the current situation? And what about the activism done by Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and a number of other NBA players speaking out against the same situation? Is one a more "proper" spokesperson than another?

As an aside, why should Jorge Julio be deported? If it's his 13-33 MLB record, do you think we can deport Jarvis Hayes as well?

Posted by: B.A. | August 8, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, B.A. JDP wins this one. Not for the merits of his argument. But because, yes, Jorge Julio should be deported since he was the linchpin of one of the O's worst trades ever: Julio and John Maine for Kris Benson. For that reason alone, he should be deported. Congrats on winning this argument, JDP.

Posted by: UMD's Burning Couch | August 8, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Thank you UMD's Burning Couch, I'm glad to have someone in agreement. And while we're on the topic we should also deport Sir Sidney Ponson and Armando Benitez. Benitez is easily my most hated Orioles reliever as I vividly remember him letting up a game winning home run to Mo Vaughn. Damn you Benitez!

Posted by: JDP | August 8, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I bear no ill will towards Jarvis Hayes so no he won't be deported. Anderson Varejao will immediately be shipped back to wherever he came from though.

Posted by: JDP | August 8, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, yes. Let's deport Benitez. A month ago, I would have kept Ponson around for comedic value, not to mention that deportation to Aruba is not tough enough for him. But then he started winning for the Yankees. So let's deport him, too. But send him to the Netherlands, where he was knighted, and where he shall never see the sun again. I'd throw in Danny Baez, too, but he's too worthless to consider. Can we deport Mike Timlin? He has to be a communist, or something. That would be great.

Posted by: UMD's Burning Couch | August 8, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I think we can agree on Armando Benitez, and I'd publicly speak out on the cause of deporting Mike Timlin for a small fee.

Posted by: B.A. | August 8, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

It's 2008, why would anyone in their right mind want to kill 100 animals for a coat? It's ridiculous and disgusting! Way to go Amanda!!

Posted by: Eric | August 10, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I agree and applaud her for taking a stance. Fur represents suffering, pain and a horrible death of countless animals every year.

Way to go, Amanda!

Posted by: MikeV | August 11, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

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