Caitlyn Jenner graces the cover of Sports Illustrated for the first time since her 1976 gold medal triumph in the decathlon in the days when she was Bruce Jenner. As the cover itself draws the usual polarizing reaction on social media, she herself, in the interview reflects upon her victory and reveals why it left her feeling ‘disgusted.’
The cover is historic for countless reasons, not least that had the then Bruce Jenner been able to have looked up to a famous transgender person when he was a child, his personal history would have been so much different. He would have spent very few years being who he was not and would have lived out his life instead as the woman he knew he was.
Caitlyn Jenner reflects on this, speaking in the third person of her former self, saying, “I love Bruce. I still love him today.”
She went on to reflect upon the Olympic triumph saying, “I like what he did and the way he set an example for hard work and dedication. I’m proud of that part of my life. But this woman was living inside me, all my life, and it reached the point where I had to let her live and put Bruce inside.”
She added, “And I am happier, these last 12 months, than I’ve even been in my life.”
She spoke of her physic back in those days. That image that is enshrined in pop culture, of the winning moment at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and said, ““It disgusted me. I was big and thick and masculine.” She went on to say, “The rest of the world thought it was this Greek god kind of body. But I hated it. But it’s what I was given, so I just tried to do the best I could with it.”
As for that gold medal: “In my nail drawer. That’s what you can say: It was in the nail drawer.”
Now at age 66, Caitlyn Jenner has lived out a year as now the most famous transgender woman on the planet. Last year the ESPYs awarded her with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
As for why so many years went by of her adult life before making that transition, she said, “I was thinking that I would transition before age 40.” She went on to say, “And I was really struggling with it. But the best way I can put it is, it just wasn’t time. It wasn’t time in my life, and it wasn’t time in society. The issue was totally misunderstood.”
Fast forward to the present, and we see the “misunderstanding” is still evident, even as she’s become a catalyst for the societal shift that’s slowly taking place. Last year when Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself to the world attired in a corset via a Vanity Fair cover and photos by legendary photographer Annie Leibowitz , she was alternately praised and mocked. This time around, wearing her Olympic medal and a sparkling gold jumpsuit, the mockery and praise return, not surprisingly.
It’s to be expected now that she is no longer a he. She is facing what women too often face, that demeaning reduction to physical appearance and the body shaming that typically follows. Well, so much for the cover. Social media, as always, is the place where the trolls gather and do what trolls always do.
But of course the issue is far beyond how good she does or does not look as a woman in the eyes of the sometimes judgemental world. It’s about identity. It’s about embracing one’s own self. That’s a lesson we can all learn. As Jenner said, ““I wasn’t going to continue to lie to myself.”
You can see the full article here, and see the Caitlyn Jenner Sports Illustrated cover photo below.
Pictures: PR Photos