The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Controversy: What the Protestors Are Getting Dead Wrong

Photo by Leticia Azevedo :

“Hey, girls, you’re beautiful. Don’t look at those stupid magazines with sticklike models. Eat healthy and exercise. That’s all. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough. You’re good enough, you are too good. Love your family with all your heart and listen to it. You are gorgeous, whether you’re a size 4 or 14. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, as long as you’re a good person, as long as you respect others. I know it’s been told hundreds of times before, but it’s true. Hey, girls, you are beautiful.”

― Gerard Way, author and lead singer of My Chemical Romance

So the much anticipated (but not by the Feminist Sexpert) Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue debuted this month to much chagrin and controversy–this owing to the choice of cover models for this year’s edition. Joining performers Megan Fox and Brooks Nader are trans model/singer Kim Petras and famed lifestyle guru Martha Stewart.

Petras’ cover in particular has generated a great deal of outrage, this owing to the fact that she is a transgendered model. Longtime subscribers are wringing their hands and tossing their mags out of the window, enraged that a woman who does not conform to their traditional concept of femininity put on a swimsuit and posed for a photo. Horrors!

Having typed this, I understand as to why some people have a problem with Petras and I do as well, seeing that she has chosen to work with a music producer facing severe SA accusations. 

A few also object to Stewart’s inclusion, as she is the first octogenarian model ever to appear on the celebrated (but not by the Feminist Sexpert) cover of this year’s swimsuit issue. A woman over aged 65 wearing a bathing suit and venturing out to the beach, as opposed to staying home and playing bingo as she cleanses her dentures? Terrors!

This entire controversy is ridiculous. All four of these women are absolutely ravishing; and if a reader doesn’t favor one cover model, they have three others (count ’em, three!) from which to choose. Ah, but noooo; instead some people are protesting SI and cancelling their subscriptions, saying that the publication has gone woke.

Sorry Dudes, but Sports Illustrated is not even close to woke; and the fact that they are finally acknowledging that a lady doesn’t have to be a skinny white cis 25 year old woman to be attractive does not render them as such. 

If someone wants to whine and moan about Sports Illustrated, why not point out the fact that of 716 issues in 11 years, only 35 female athletes have been displayed on the cover– of which only 18 featured a female as the focus of the primary or sole image.

And regarding the ever-lovin’ swimsuit issue; where are the male models posed for the female gaze? They are few and far between. The brilliant xoJane tried to rectify this problem a few years back, with their own male swimsuit issue. Where are the plus-sized models? Again, few and far between–with the stunning Ashley Graham and Yumi Nu standing among the notable exceptions. Women of color? A few here and there, and Tyra Banks has made the cover three times.

Some say that, by tainting the swimming pool of Baywatch-style models for which the SI swimsuit edition is known, the magazine is ruining tradition. Well what about the ‘tradition’ of proud, strong woman athletes denied the cover of the most prominent sports magazine in the nation, because they may not have preferred to pose in a swimsuit? What about the tradition of selling a single beauty standard to men, while their wives or girlfriends stand in front of their mirrors and literally weep because they feel that they are not slender, young, busty, bronzed, white, etc., enough to meet this standard? Some traditions should go down in flames–but in this case, the flame is barely a flicker.

Kudos to Sports Illustrated for featuring unconventional beauties on the covers of this year’s swimsuit issue. But you still have a lot of work to do, Dudes. And for the ladies, the FSI (Feminist Sexpert Illustrated) swimsuit issue cover is printed above for your pleasure.



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