Everyone knows the name Ronda Rousey—and for good reason. She burst onto the MMA scene, crushing every fight in her path, and has inspired us—and many others—to totally kick ass. Her fan base is a strong and loyal one; it didn't let up even after her brutal loss to Holly Holm in November 2015, the first defeat in her all-star career.
But there will always be haters: "People either hate my guts or really, really, like me. And I'm OK with that," she told Reebok as part of their #PerfectNever campaign.
People have criticized Rousey for bad sportsmanship, for posting a photoshopped Instagram picture (for the record, she didn't know), and for being "too masculine." And she's not the only successful female athlete in a "tough" sport facing ridiculous criticism over her looks; Olympic wrestler Adeline Gray just voiced her frustration in the ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue because she's tired of being called "too pretty" for the sport.
That's why Rousey is stripping down (not naked, like she's done in Sports Illustrated), but to her authentic, fighting-shape self, to get real about the idea of perfection. She's ditching the makeup, fancy dress, and blown-out hair to make a statement about the societal expectations of female athletes. In an age when female athletes are celebrated for their physical achievements, why is there so much focus on their physical appearances?
"I try to show as many imperfections and flaws as I can. I go out and walk around not wearing makeup. I like how my face looks," Rousey told Reebok. "I'm not trying to make it look perfect all the time. I'm trying to be myself all the time."
Ronda Rousey isn't just a part of the #PerfectNever campaign to talk about body image, either. The overuse of the term "perfect" has made its way into the ring as well, as many people have called her then-undefeated MMA career "perfect," too. But shattering the idea of perfection has its benefits. As she says in the video, "here's the thing about being perfect: perfect never gets truly tested, perfect never gets to silence its critics, perfect never gets a shot at redemption." (We're still waiting for that Ronda-Holly rematch, BTW.)
Call us biased, but we like the be-yourself body-confidence attitude the best. (Um, have you heard of our epic #LoveMyShape campaign?) Female athletes in tough sports shouldn't have to get gussied up just to battle body-shamers who don't understand that girls can have muscles too. And if you dare try to criticize? Watch out—you picked the wrong girls to mess with.