The 2014 ESPN Body Issue has just hit newsstands and is already stirring up controversy with major leaguer Prince Fielder gracing one of the covers totally nude, swinging a big bat with his chubby body.
Other than Fielder, this year ESPN featured more than 20 athletes, including 18-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, tennis champion Venus Williams, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, the incredible action sports husband and wife duo of Travis and Lyn-Z Pastrana, as well as Oahu’s surfing princess and World Tour standout Coco Ho—whose appearance is a welcomed surprise to both her fans and her.
I had the pleasure of spending a week in Costa Rica with Coco, who is 23, while working on a upcoming Surfing magazine piece, as well as filming for her brother, Mason Ho, for his upcoming surf film. On the last afternoon of the trip, I invited Coco in to Cote’s Cube for a quick interview about getting naked for ESPN, among other topics.
I was so surprised that you posed naked for ESPN! It’s awesome, but it must have been really scary for you because you’ve never really done anything quite like this.
I remember seeing the ESPN Body Issue a long time ago and thought it was really beautiful and so well done. The photographers and the magazine really capture the essence of the athletes they shoot and feature. I secretly wanted to do it for a long time, but I was never quite comfortable with my body—I mean, I was 17 or something when it first came out, at that time I still had a lot to learn and love about myself.
What do you mean?
Well, I’ve learned about my body and what to appreciate and how to accentuate my strengths. I’ve always thought I had really strong and muscular legs and I despised that about myself for a long time. But then I realized that strength is beauty. Beyoncé helped me realize that [laughs].
So when ESPN called this year, you were ready?
Yes! Stephanie Gilmore got in the issue a few years ago, and she’s one of my heroes so that made me want to do it. Last year it was Maya Gabeira. I had my fingers crossed and just really wanted it, then I got an email in April when I was in Bells, and I just said yes right away. I did the shoot on June 10 with Morgan Maassen in Hawaii, and it was an incredible experience.
What was it like getting totally naked in front of a photo and film crew?
My boyfriend, Mark [pro snowboarder Mark McMorris], came on the shoot, which was really nice ’cause he made me feel comfortable. It’s not like any other shoot where I’d have my dad or brother for support [laughs]. Who would want their dad or brother on a naked shoot?! At first I was really timid and would cover up immediately after the shot was taken, then as it went on, and everybody on the shoot was so cool and made me feel so comfortable that by the end of the day I was just cruising around naked and having a blast.
So now that it’s out and everybody is seeing it and posting it online how do you feel? More important, how did your dad and brother feel about it?
Well they were shocked, of course, but I know they’re proud of me and know that it’s a huge accomplishment. It was funny watching my brother first see the photos; he made a funny face and looked very uncomfortable [laughs]. He’s proud of me and he can’t say anything ’cause he surfs naked all the time! It will be interesting to hear what my grandma has to say about it. I don’t even want to know what my dad says; I kind of did it without warning him. Well, I did tell him, but I don’t think he wanted to think about it—sorry dad [laughs].
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!