Amanda Beard is a seven-time Olympic medalist, world record holder, and swimming superstar since the age of 14 when she first appeared on the international stage to compete – and win gold – at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
Olympic Swimmer Amanda Beard speaks out about struggles with body imageAmanda Beard is a seven-time Olympic medalist, world record holder, and swimming superstar since the age of 14 when she first appeared on the international stage to compete – and win gold – at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
She’s also had a successful career as a model, gracing the pages and covers of magazines such as Sports Illustrated.
But while the world saw a beautiful and athletic woman, Beard struggled with her body image and mental health.
In her autobiography, “In the Water They Can’t See You Cry,” Beard recounts her struggles with self-mutilation, an eating disorder, and depression.
Afraid to be seen as weak, she hid her problems, presenting a positive version of herself to the public while deeply struggling behind closed doors.
“I would do interviews and have this happy face and talk about how everything is great and I’m having so much fun,” Beard said, “but then I would go home and be the exact opposite person. I would be miserable. I would hate myself. I would have this negative loop running through my head.”
Eventually, and with the help of her now husband, Sacha Brown, Beard sought therapy and overcame her struggles. She is now the proud mother of two children, and her qualms about her body have taken a much lower priority than the happiness of her family.
“I wake myself up and look at myself in the mirror every morning and know [that] how I look, and my weight and how my hairdo is really not that important. I have two young kids and when I look at their faces if they’re happy and healthy, that is the best thing in my life,” she said.
By sharing her story Beard hopes that she can encourage people, especially young athletes, to know their struggles do not make them weaker.
“That was the whole purpose of [the book], to let people know that they’re not alone. That it’s silly for us to feel embarrassed about these things,” said Beard. “That even these tough athletes that stand behind the swimming blocks at the Olympics and win gold medals, have issues. We all have issues.”
Amanda Beard sat down with Mike Walter at Full Frame’s Los Angeles studio to discuss her triumphs both in and out of the pool.
Follow Amanda Beard on Twitter: @AmandaRayBeard