Amanda Beard Talks About Being Naked
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.
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