Beauty Redefined Blog

Our Issue with Swimsuits (or lack thereof) in Sports Illustrated

105

 

Every February, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue hits the mailboxes of 70 million SI subscribers, every newsstand and media outlet, and hundreds of millions will view the thousands of digitally manipulated, nude and near-nude images online.  

Since it’s unlikely you will hear any popular media discuss the Swimsuit Issue’s serious blow to female equality, self-image, attack on women of color or its use of mainstream pornography packaged as “safe” for your coffee table, we are here to give you fair warning!

Every week, 30 million faithful followers catch up on the latest sports news in their weekly edition or online version of SI, the self-proclaimed “foremost authority” and “most respected voice” in sports journalism. And once a year, every year, those 30 million subscribers soar to more than 70 million and are joined by 250 million more online viewers for the always record-breaking event known as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Published since 1964, the SI’s 200-plus pages of nude to semi-nude females is truly a cultural event, generating global mainstream media coverage, TV shows, calendars, DVDs and mass amounts of memorabilia to push Sports Illustrated’s sales through the roof every spring. Since its birth, the Swimsuit Issue has earned $1 billion for SI’s parent company, Time Warner, which owns CNN, AOL, HBO, the CW, Time Inc, DC Comics and hundreds of other media companies. Talk about a media powerholder!

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: “A Cult-Type Thing”

Nearly 50 years after the first edition of the Swimsuit Issue and hundreds of millions of viewers later, the magazine has become a popular culture phenomenon. Today, SI.com claims 32 percent of adults in America regularly read the Swimsuit Issue (22 million are reported to be women), and with its own YouTube channel, mobile video on demand, and record-breaking website hits, this magazine is quickly becoming a global spectacle.

catcallMy main goal with this post is to expose the way harmful, objectified ideals about women’s bodies are normalized and made so mainstream that we don’t question them. With this objective and the hundreds of millions of SI viewers in mind, I analyzed issues from 1978, ‘88, ‘98 and 2008 to explore the ways images of nude or nearly nude women are made normal and mainstream in one of the most popular “sports” magazines of all time.

The SI Swimsuit Issue profits from a philosophy of constructing men as active, women as passive; men as subjects, women as objects; men as actors, women as receivers; men as the lookers and women as the looked-at; and I argue, men as consumers and women as the “to-be-consumed” (Betterton, 1987). Women today have been socialized to see themselves through the male gaze so that they are both spectators and spectacles. As spectators of themselves, women learn from popular media, in this case the wildly popular Swimsuit Issue, to compare their appearances with the media’s feminine ideal, becoming objects of their own gaze. This feminine ideal, as proven again and again by the Swimsuit Issue, leads women to internalize these mediated ideals and constantly work to live up to these perfected “norms” of beauty while leading men to believe these qualities are essential (and attainable) in a mate. Essentially, “the feminine ideal is tanned, healthy slenderness, with no unsightly bumps, bulges, or cellulite, and bodily and facial perfection that results from hours of labor: exercise, makeup, and hair care” ( Kuhn, 1985), and 20 years later, plastic surgery and digital manipulation.

Magazines like Playboy, Hustler and Penthouse are an obvious source for voyeurism, or the act of secretive looking at things of a sexual nature without being seen, and those sources do so without apology. The Swimsuit Issue is equally voyeuristic in nature, but does so under the guise of being “America’s foremost sports authority” and “most popular sports journalism magazine.” Essentially, this magazine offers sexual fantasies and blatant voyeurism hidden undercover as a sports magazine. Duncan put it best in 1993 when she said, “If they so desire, readers can sneak looks at the models while steadfastly denying that they buy and read the issue for pornographic content,” and she had NO IDEA what SI would look like in 2012, with the help of digital manipulation, surgical enhancements and reductions, and a global company owner with the power to publish and produce nearly any message and distribute it immediately.

SI masks its pornographic presence by placing the models in foreign locations with sandy beaches and tropical jungles so as to appear to promote travel destinations and the appreciation of nature. And don’t forget to take into account the idea of being a “swimsuit issue” is quickly becoming a lie. Instead, in the record-breaking 2008 issue, the models are wearing far less than swimsuits more than 50 percent of the time and only body paint for much of that time, which clearly invites voyeurism. When they do wear bathing suits, the most private of parts that are normally censored in mainstream media are repeatedly exposed in an “oops, I didn’t know that was showing” sort of fashion. The latest issues features topless models with string bikini bottoms only big enough to cover the necessary amount of skin to avoid censorship.

When Women of Color Go Wild

Though the original Sports Illustrated began in 1954, people of color were found solely in the first 10 years of publication as “hired help” by serving food and drink, performing physical labor, or entertaining in ways that U.S. readers would perceive as “exotic.” It may startle you to know the first dark-skinned model did not appear within the pages of the Swimsuit Issue until 1990 – more than 35 years after its initial publication, after the production staff received complaints about its exclusionary practices and realized their increasingly non-white readership would pay to see models of color.

girl1However, the harmful issue at play in this magazine is not so much the number of representations anymore, but the type of representations. What I want to emphasize is how the “exoticization” of women of color within this magazine does NOT reflect a magazine being “aware of the social consequences of what it is doing” as one editor put it, but promotes dangerous ideas that whiteness is the norm and the most desirable, and anything else is an exotic deviation – even a less-than human object of desire.

History tells us women of color have historically been described as “exotic” in popular media, and it has always carried a sexual connotation. In the 2008 issue alone, I explain the details of how “exoticization” works: When a dark-skinned model appears, she is most often wearing a different animal print bikini on every one of the pages she is featured on, which makes her appear to be animal-like or “exotic.” One of only two dark-skinned models in the 225 pages of images is seen exclusively in leopard and cheetah print bikinis. In Western, white culture, there has long been a fascination with black women as different and ‘other.’ Therefore, this swimsuit model, representative of the non-white female population, reflects what is exotic, inhuman and even animalistic as she strikes seductive poses in her animal-print bikini. Need more evidence of this “wild” phenomenon? The 2008 magazine boasts a two-page spread featuring the only Hispanic model. She appears to be emerging from a muddy body of water, with dirt covering her face, neck and chest. With only a roughly one-inch piece of cloth visible on her body, this model doesn’t model anything but mud! Instead, she appears to be a less-than-human object made up of nothing more than breasts and dirt. Photographs such as this degrade non-white women, and even all of non-Western societies, by reinforcing a stereotype of non-white women as “different,” exotic and purely sexual.

I Object!

Let me be blunt here. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is the epitome of female objectification. Packaged in a magazine that can be picked up and packed around, the semi-nude to nude females within the pages can be equally possessed and controlled. Do you want further evidence of the objectification overflowing the pages of this magazine?  The Swimsuit Issue represents the very literal fragmenting of women into parts of women. Between 1978 and 1988, the models were often in two-page spreads where their chests were the focus of one page while their backsides and hips occupied the other. But in the late 1990s, editors made the classically pornographic move to a three-page centerfold spread. The three-page spreads allow for women’s bodies to be segmented and magnified into three parts: faces, chests and behinds. She is first identified as one page of chest and one page of a derriere as the reader turns to the centerfold. Appearing virtually headless, the only way to identify her face is to turn back one page and unfold it to find all three pages. If this magazine continues progressing – better yet, regressing – toward more extreme forms of female objectification, its next step will be to simply leave the heads off their models, blur out their faces or place bags over their heads.

In 1978, the swimsuit models posed in what we’d now call mildly seductive positions. Most often posed with flirtatious smiles and hands on hips to emphasize the curve of their waists, these women were acting to accentuate their best features – the objects of men’s desire. But as years passed, the models seem to more fully act like they were turning themselves into objects. By 1988, the cover model, Elle Macpherson, is staring intently into the camera while pulling her swimsuit down to expose her cleavage. Because her goal is to attract and satisfy the male gaze, she is acting with herself as a male would act if he were present. This is called self-objectification, and it is something every girl learns through media as she grows up. But just wait! The 2008 edition (and all the following) take objectification to the extreme. The 2008 issue, titled “Barely Bikinis,” is packed with models tugging at or removing bikini tops and, most often, bottoms. The title “Barely Bikinis” is an understatement: the majority of the models appear naked, missing either the top or bottom of their bikini or are wearing completely translucent coverings. More fully bare chests appear in 2008’s edition than any other Swimsuit Issue to that date.

One of our new, true sticky notes! Click here to buy!

The global exposure of the Swimsuit Issue, one of the self-proclaimed “most powerful phenomena in publishing and new media,” is having and will continue to have a worldwide impact: an impact on the way white and non-white women are viewed, and therefore, treated; an impact on the normalization of pornography as safe and socially acceptable; an impact on the standard of beauty we all use to evaluate women; an impact on profit increases in diet and beauty industries, as well as an increase in cosmetic surgery procedures. Objectification, exoticization and normalized pornography, occurring in more extreme and blatant ways each year, work to harm women and cannot be accepted in the U.S.’s “most respected voice” in sports journalism.

Speak out! If the harmful ideals identified in my research bother you and you’d like to help Beauty Redefined break the silence, slap one of our sticky notes on any issue of SI with the happy truths “There is more to be than eye candy!” or “You are capable of much more than being looked at,” DO IT! Find them here.

Lexie Kite, 2011. “The Issue with Swimsuits in Sports Illustrated.” Excerpt from “Top Debut Paper” paper presented at Western Communication Association Conference in Anchorage, Alaska: April 2010.

References
 
Berger, J. (1977). Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin. (Original work published in 1972).
 
Davis, Laurel B. (1997). The Swimsuit Issue and Sport: Hegemonic Masculinity in Sports Illustrated. Albany State University of  New York Press.
 
Whatley, Mariamne H (1988). Photographic Images of Blacks in Sexuality Texts. Curriculum Inquiry. 18(2) pp.137- 155.
 
Duncan, Margaret Carlisle (1993). Beyond Analyses of Sport Media Texts: An Argument for Formal Analyses of Institutional   Structures. Sociology of Sport Journal. 10: pp. 353-372.

  1. Lori andersen
    Lori andersen02-14-2011

    I love reading this stuff because its empowering. I hate reading it because it makes me sick to think of all those men-and even more so the women- who will add to their unrealistic expectations of body image.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined02-14-2011

      True true, Lori! I am all over Twitter and the web trying to find ANY voices speaking out against the SI Swimsuit Issue and we are alone at the moment! While I’m sure they’re out there, we have GOT to get this message and others out there to even begin to counteract the horrible images and messages blasting across the airwaves. Breaking the silence is the first step toward actual empowerment!! Thank you for following. You are wonderful.

      • Well
        Well02-23-2013

        Nobody cares about women’s voices or opinions. Women, girls, and men crashed the complaint lines over the Victoria Secret Fashion show years ago and nobody cared. What really gets me about that one is that VS is a company which survives on female consumers yet they cater to the male public – not their customers….the people that make them rich.

        Could they be any more disrespectful? Yet women and GIRLS take the insult and go back like addicts trying to meet the sexual image fed to boys/men by the very company kept rich by female dollars!! Can it get any more twisted than that? Girls and women do not get customer service at VC, they get insults and go back for more. VC turns around and invests women’s hard earned money in entertaining men. In return women and girls get futher insult to their self-esteem and status. VC gets rich hurting their own customers!

        If men crashed complaint lines over some perceived injustice there would be apologies and an end to whatever caused it.

        Everyone has given up on all things “female”. I’m noticing a scary rise in misogyny on the net with crazy boys/men ranting at every opportuinty about evil feminists and the victimization of all things male. And it’s all fuled by myths that men/boys take for fact. It’s disgusting and disturbing.

    • T
      T02-16-2012

      I live with two males: one is my boyfriend and the other is his 16 year old son. My boyfriend regularly subscribes to SI and of course, we received the lovely swimsuit edition in the mail yesterday. The 16 year old immediately grabbed it off of the counter and began perusing with gusto. Lovely. I have been doing a lot of “research” on mass media and its influences on body image for women. I also know that how damaging it has been on my own body image, and how I am affected by the media’s representation of women’s bodies daily. Argh.

      Thank you for the viewpoints and research. Here’s to beauty redefined.

      • Cristina
        Cristina02-20-2012

        The more you read and take an interest in this topic, the more you will become angered. It’s a double edged sword. I almost envy women who ignorantly internalize these messages because to be aware and educated is an exercise in frustration and helplessness. I appreciate blogs and projects like the one Beauty Redefined is promoting (I wouldn’t be here otherwise) but societal powerhouses like Playboy and SI are so ingrained in our culture that I wonder how we’ll ever overcome it?

      • Ed Drain
        Ed Drain02-05-2013

        I say throw the magazine out. Take a stand against the objectification of women. Tell them that stuff like that makes them blind to all the things they should be looking at — like the worldwide suffering of women at the hands of societies that act in so many ways as if they hate women. Tell both of them that crap like that is disrespectful to all women and in particular to you as they know you object and do it anyway. Stand up for other women and yourself!

  2. tietDyelf
    tietDyelf03-02-2011

    Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.

  3. KRAUSSIE
    KRAUSSIE03-04-2011

    Wow, I was so glad to come across this website, and happy to know there are people out there who are standing up to the poor way the media portrays women. It is undeniably true that the SI Swimsuit Issue is pornography, and sad that so many people look at it without giving a single thought about what they’re actively participating in. It’s true that as women today, we’re constantly bombarded with what the media has decided an attractive woman should look like- She’s an incredibly air-brushed, underfed, over-exercised, and surgically enhanced woman, whose looks are nearly impossible to achieve in a healthy way. Thank you for helping me regain my perspective, and realize that I AM beautiful.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined03-05-2011

      We’re glad you found us too! Thanks for your insightful comment – you’re exactly right. And I have no doubt you ARE beautiful!

  4. Ryan Zielke
    Ryan Zielke03-07-2011

    I hate to think that this is the world being created for our kids to inherit.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined03-07-2011

      But with men (like you) and women recognizing how harmful this is and helping our kids reject it, we’re going in a good direction, don’t you think?! :)

  5. Catherine D.
    Catherine D.03-07-2011

    The day I found the issue under my son’s mattress is the day I decided to hate this magazine. My husband USED to get SI magazine because he’s a huge sport’s fan. I threw out that garbage issue not more than five seconds it came UNINVITED to my mailbox. I didn’t look at it. Don’t need to. It saddens me that women think it’s okay to gawk and comment on a woman for her looks. Bad enough men do it. Ewwwww. My son found it in the trash and I found it a year later. Yay. Glad he had 11 months of viewing what women will never aspire to. I had a nice talk with him after I took out all the pictures and left the ‘articles’ for him to read. ;) UGH. Try raising THREE boys into men ….GOOD men in this day in age. Challenge anyone?

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined03-11-2011

      Being a parent really complicates and magnifies the importance of this whole issue, doesn’t it? Thank goodness for involved and loving parents like you!

  6. Rachel M.
    Rachel M.03-15-2011

    I cannot express how passionately I feel about this subject. Over the past few years I have tried vigorously to speak out about how objectification of women just may be the greatest evil of our time (or ever for that matter). Pornography addiction, low self-esteem, broken homes, eating disorders… are just some of the negative outcomes of this issue that affect men and women. Thank you for recognizing such an overlooked monstrosity. It is so reassuring to see there are other voices out there. Please let me know if I can help spread awareness on this issue in any way.

  7. Beauty Redefined
    Beauty Redefined03-16-2011

    Rachel, what an amazing woman you are! I’m so grateful every time I hear more women have taken up this fight. SI is outrageous to me and I’ve got a 35-page doctoral research paper that spans 40 years of the SI Swimsuit Issue to back up my outrage in an academic voice :) I’ve done the same with Victoria’s Secret and others. One reason Lindsay and I post condensed versions of our research is so people can email, tweet, and Facebook these links far and wide and help other people give words to the feelings they feel when they see these harmful media messages. You’re obviously not alone in feeling like these images are a monstrosity! Please share this link and our site with anyone you think can benefit, and keep in touch with us! Email me at TakeBackBeauty@gmail.com if you’d like to be in contact about ways you could fight this fight for female worth in a scary media environment. Thank you SO MUCH for your beautiful message. – Lexie :)

  8. Julia
    Julia10-09-2011

    Thank u for speaking against this current issue
    This helped me with my research paper I’m writing; my central idea is how society teaches men to abuse women and even worse teaches women to abuse themselves.
    Something we should have taken from the holocaust is the value of a human being. I’ts not based on any external factors. Also, Just like we wouldn’t want someone to like us cuz of our $, we shouldn’t want them to like us cuz of our bodies. Thanks again.

  9. holly papa
    holly papa10-12-2011

    Last year I objected when a major chain store displayed pornographic fitness magazines next to a children’s toy display. Talk about indoctrinating our children with mindless drivel! I spoke with the manager (which was not hard!) and he agreed to have the vendor replace the offensive magazines or else he would move the display to a more adult area of the store. I have 4 boys and can not afford to sit idly by when I see such offensive media onslaughts. I want them to have the highest respect for women and that does not include pornographic swimsuit issues and all the female objectification that come with it.

    Thanks for your amazing work!

  10. Steph
    Steph11-03-2011

    Thanks for this article! I enjoyed it! I find the discussion of women athletes and their looks interesting. There’s something to be said for being a good looking athlete, just like male athletes, but it shouldn’t override their abilities. There’s a good discussion of this over at TC Huddle. I found your article looking for more opinions on this.

    This is a good article. Thanks! Here’s the article if you’re interested: http://www.tchuddle.com/2011/07/women-athletes-and-the-need-to-objectify/

  11. mad women
    mad women11-15-2011

    Thankyou so much for your article. I believe it is very important to stop objectafying women sexually in all types of mainstream media. It is just as bad for young boys as it is girls, infact in the long run it will be worse for boys as they will think that this type of fake beauty is really, but most girls won’t want to show their regular body because it can never compare, hell the modells own body can’t even compare to the made up doctored photos anymore.
    We need to make sex more intement again, why do you think there is such an epidemic of sexual disfunction. We need to edjucate our youth, not bombard them with porn that will ultimetely effect their life in a negative way.
    Again I thank you for bringing attention to this major problem!

  12. Roger Hudson
    Roger Hudson02-14-2012

    This is exactly the type of thing we are studying in my Males & Females in the west class in university. This is a great article depicting the norms of our society. What I find equally as alarming is the fact that there are no men in any magazine. It is a Swimsuit Issue right? what about a suimsuit makes it that only girls may wear it? is it unacceptable for men to be seen as near or fully nude in a magazine centred on sports? (which is again, predominantly assumed to be a masculine inclination). I understand that they are appealing to the male audience, but that audience is also brainwashed and biased to believe that heterosexuality is the norm in our society. which further reinforces the notion that only women should be in the magazine, because the magazine is about sports, which is for men only, (because women dont watch sports right?) and men like women, there are no bisexuals or gays in the usual 30 million who read the magazine weekly?

    • Tracy
      Tracy02-06-2013

      Good point!

  13. Danielle
    Danielle02-15-2012

    thanks for sharing! I am a Masters/PhD student at Louisiana State University in sociology focusing on how women navigate beauty in their everyday lives…I am currently working on my thesis, which is an in-depth content analysis of beauty magazines from the USA and Uganda because I am interested in how images and people flow across national and cultural boundaries in a globalized world. I am a Christian and a feminist and am very frustrated by the media’s presentation of women and our bodies!

  14. Mom of Boys
    Mom of Boys02-15-2012

    Thank you for your insightful commentary on these issues. I would love to see you produce articles that are geared to enlighten (gently) men who are so steeped in this media objectification that they cannot even see it for what it is. I have relatives that are kind loving men who are very much into women’s equal rights, but cannot see the common objectification and sexualization of women since they are so desensitized to it. They recognize the extreme stuff, but things like fun/sexy commercials or the SI swimsuit magazine are just something to be appreciated or are not so harmful as they can see. If you could come up with “tear-sheets” with non-inflammatory language and stats that can be used to open eyes in a gentle manner that would be so helpful! Also articles on how to teach children (especially boys) in child-appropriate language what gender stereotyping of toys is and why it is not healthy. This is such an important dialogue you are doing and going the next step with materials to help us educate and change one mind at a time, can make a big impact. Thank you for your hard work on this important matter!

  15. Heidi
    Heidi02-15-2012

    Thanks for all you are doing. My husband and son are the biggest sports fans ever, but we refuse to subscribe to Sports Illustrated for that reason. We used to get it and request not to get the swimsuit issue, but it still felt like we were supporting it. I have never understood what the swimsuit issue claims to have to do with sports journalism.

  16. Emily
    Emily02-15-2012

    I’ve always disliked Sports Illustrated particularly because of the swimsuit issue — and then the calendars that come out. Just terrible garbage. Great article; I’ll share.

  17. Martha Myers
    Martha Myers02-15-2012

    I went to the gym to work out and watched a 5 minute segment on the SI swimsuit edition…they interviewed the model and flashed her nearly-nude pics the during the entire interview. I was so embarrassed for her. How demeaning and objectifying!
    I thought Fox News was against pornography? So hypocritical.

  18. Luise Eichenbaum
    Luise Eichenbaum02-16-2012

    As a psychotherapist and co-founder of The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute in New York I would like to comment on the mental health aspect of objectification. Women’s and girls efforts to manipulate their bodies to fit this false (digitalized ) ideal has reached epidemic proportions. The psychological damage which results from our toxic visual culture is inescapable with girls as young as 8 saying they hate their bodies and want to be thinner. This is not an issue of vanity and can no longer be trivialized.

  19. Kim F.
    Kim F.02-16-2012

    I think Swimsuitless Edition would be a more appropriate title. Since when do naked women splattered with mud have anything to do with sports? (I thought mud-slinging was relegated only to politics– apparently not.) This kind of normalized pornography is despicable. I went to a children’s book signing at a well-known bookstore once, and was appalled to see a SI Swimsuit edition next to the checkstand– showing a model who was wearing nothing, but covering her breasts with her hands. I complained to the store about their flagrant display of pornography at a children’s event and was told “Oh, certain vendors buy spots for their magazines. We don’t have any control over what they print.” The employee did say that she would pass on my complaint to the management, and I told her that if they didn’t remove it, I would no longer shop at that store. It’s been two years and I still haven’t been back.

  20. amy
    amy02-16-2012

    Thank you so much for shedding light and breaking the silence on this very important subject. As a girl who grew up in a home with two sisters who had eating disorders, I now look back and remember all the Victoria’s Secret catalogues that sat around our house. I think they strongly influenced our notions of what a woman “should” look like. These catalogues never felt right to me, but I figured they was okay because the models weren’t nude. How wrong I was! SI and VS are not harmless. They are influencing the lives of millions. Thank you for your work exposing normalized pornography for what it really is! I hope to pass along your messages to all I know, especially my children!

  21. Servaas Hofmeyr
    Servaas Hofmeyr02-17-2012

    Brilliant article. I am a South African man and have over the past few years engaged in reading up on the topic of the sexualisation and objectification of women. I have done so because I am involved with a local anti-trafficking initiative and it is simply careless and irresponsible of corporations and the media in general to use women in the way they do – to say the least. I echo your sentiments in this conclusion of mine which I posted on my personal blog about a year ago: http://thestir.squarespace.com/journal/2011/3/21/sex-slavery-not-just-a-crime-but-a-culture.html

    Women are the objects but both us men and them are victims of this system and as you mentioned, both us and unfortunately the ladies as well promote this objectification and victimisation.

    It sometimes takes a bit longer for us men’s eyes to open up but one photo in particular really made me wonder (in South Africa the swimwear issue is published annually for the month of November – before the summer holidays). In that issue, a few years back, a well-known SA model sat on the beach wearing nothing but socks. I wondered, what on earth has a pair of socks got to do with swimwear and why on earth would anyone look at this picture other than to fantasise about having sex with this girl? It is obvious now, after my eyes have been fully opened that it’s hardly ever about swimwear at all, it’s plain and simply porn: Using the technique of fantasy to twist the most pleasurable and intimate physical act on earth, which has emotional and spiritual side-effects, to make money and in the process destroy society by preying on people’s weaknesses. Under normal circumstances people would say such practices are unethical and people who do that lack integrity.

    • Reeshie
      Reeshie06-06-2012

      Thanks for your input, Servaas. I read your blog, too- it was very insightful.

  22. Dianna Nelson
    Dianna Nelson02-21-2012

    You stated that you would forward all comments to Sports Illustrated and that has prompted me to comment. I am deeply saddened by the progression of this “Special Issue” from mildly seductive to absolute pornography. I am the mother of two daughters, ages 16 and 13 and am concerned that with the acceptance of such material as mainstream that they will internalize the message that in order to be attractive you must be pornographic.

    I feel it is completely natural to want to be viewed as attractive, pretty and beautiful. However, the majority of models and stars today fling themselves into objectivity with complete abandon. If Sports Illustrated wishes to be the premier sports magazine and states that they currently are “America’s foremost sports authority” then the Swimsuit Issue should be unaltered pictures of competitive swimmers and divers, both male and female, in the same type of pictures as those they show of football players, soccer players, basketball players, etc. This would show readers strong, exceptional bodies that have been and are trained for one purpose. Sports Illustrated is not a fashion magazine so the fact that all the swimsuits will be similar is not an issue.

    Leave the pornography to those who publish it unapologetically such as Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler. I feel our world would be much healthier without such material but we do have freedom of speech which means that it will always be available in some form. However, freedom of speech also means that we have the right to have pornography free literature and programs. I sincerely hope that Sports Illustrated decides to lead the way in changing the media focus on sexualized images. Then they truly would be the “most popular sports journalism magazine”.

  23. Angela S
    Angela S02-21-2012

    I heartily agree with this article and the objectification of women in not only SI but many other company’s today ie: Victoria Secret, Ambercrombie & Fitch, as well as Limited 2 that sell young girls–pre-teen girls–provocative clothing.

    My husband used to subscribe to Sports Illustrated when we were first married, but as the Swimsuit issue became more, and more pornographic he cancelled it. HE cancelled it. Yes, there are plenty of men who are disgusted by the objectification of women–someone’s mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend. Unfortunately in today’s world many women see nothing wrong with such sexualized advertising claiming it shows the “beauty” of woman and a “healthy” body. Another example of women being duped by the media as to what beauty is.

    As a mother of three sons I and my husband, work tirelessly to teach our sons that women are not objects, but rather people that they should show respect to through their actions, words, and deeds whether there is a woman in the room or not. Our family does not and will not support any business that demoralizes women for their own gain, after all that’s what the bottom line is, is it not? Profit.

    Thank you for writing the truth.

    • Amy
      Amy02-29-2012

      It’s awesome to hear about those kinds of guys. And the funny thing is, when I have surveyed my male friends and relatives about what makes a woman “attractive,” they most often cite confidence – not looks, not thinness, not how scanty their bikinis are. Confidence in who they are as a person, and their abilities. So we’re being lied to all around. It’s only when we recognize it that we can do anything about it.

  24. Amy
    Amy02-27-2012

    This flows over into so many other aspects of life, sadly. I started hoopdance about a year ago, and I keep up with several hooping blogs and sites. A documentary has been made about hooping – the hoop community is thrilled about this, as it is a serious look at hooping and hoopdance. Pro- and non-pro hoopers are lauding the documentary as a piece that will bring more respect to the art of hoopdance and the community at large. And so what do the producers choose for the main promotional poster? A back-side shot of a woman in hotpants with her cheeks hanging out, crop top with no bra, and her head cut off. I was so mad when I saw it. Hoopdance is one of those activities that is viewed in much the same way as belly dance – something that is only for “skinny, sexy, young” women – older, larger, and male people need not apply (despite the fact that some of the best hoopers, and Middle Eastern dancers, don’t fit into society’s definition of beauty – and I fight this attitude all the time when trying to encourage people to try this joyful and fulfilling activity). It’s not taken seriously as an art form by most people, just like belly dance. And how can people take it seriously when the promo poster for the first serious look at hoopdance shows a half-naked woman with no head? I’m sure the producers were thinking that the image they chose was fun, flirty, and colorful, but it ends up being harmful, because of the attitudes you outlined in this article.

    Thanks for your work, sisters. We can only change this if we’re aware of it first. I appreciate everything you do and I hope to be a light within my community.

  25. Elaine Williams
    Elaine Williams02-28-2012

    I too was taken aback when that issue hit our office last week! Putting the obvious porno aspect aside which has been handily adddressed here I want to comment on the “fashion” aspect of the issue. Since when is an ill fitting suit that makes the model look like she’s wearing her 10 year old kid sister’s bikini fashionable? Then upon closer inspection I found that nearly all the suits were outrageously priced – over $600 for a bikini! Really?

  26. buttaeous Maximoos
    buttaeous Maximoos02-29-2012

    Let me begin this post by saying that I am entirely for the equal treatment of women in all regards. With that said, I think this website is irrational and quite frankly oversensitive. Before we criticize Sports Illustrated and call them sexist for “objectifying women,” we must consider that these women chose to be on the cover. These women had the ability to turn down the offer. And these women had every right to refuse any poses or bathing suits. With that said, we must also consider the basis by which these women CHOSE to be a part of the issue. Comparing this to pornography is unfounded as these women are wearing clothing that anyone can wear on any beach or in public in the united states. In order to claim that the wearing of bikinis is comparable to pornography, one would have to believe that the wearing of a bikini in any situation is the equivalent to nudity, which it clearly is not. Moving forward, we must also consider the concept of beauty. For the religious folk, one must assume that beauty is one in one’s natural state. This transcends the concept of creation, as we are born naked, so one can safely assume that one is most beautiful in one’s natural state: nude. These women, by displaying themselves in a nearly nude (not pornography!) state, they are portraying and celebrating their own beauty for the enjoyment of men and women alike. If you believe that is a crime, then you should probably reassess your concept of beauty. This website should be going after magazines that show unhealthy models with eating disorders as beautiful, not healthy, fit, professional athletes. (On a side note, the magazine makes it very clear that these women are athletes, thus celebrating their athletic ability).

    • Really?
      Really?05-01-2012

      Dear “buttaeous Maximoos” (Wow. What a mature name!),

      I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but you’re entirely ignorant. Based off of your comment, it’s quite clear that you know next to nothing about sexism, patriarchy, male privilege, the male gaze, the objectification of women, real beauty, health, or the numerous detrimental effects this the swimsuit edition and similar types of images have on young women.

      The swimsuit edition absolutely encourages and causes girls to develop eating and exercise disorders in order to fit the image of “beauty” that is being sold to them, in addition to making girls worldwide feel insecure about their bodies and appearance. Read up on the male gaze and the objectification of women in advertising, then get back to me.

      It doesn’t matter whether or not the woman consented to being photographed as no more than a piece of meat, her portrayal is problematic and only ends up hurting women (along with men and their ideals of “beauty”, as exhibited perfectly by you). Need proof? Just ask yourself, when was the last time you saw men and their bodies being objectified, sexualized, exoticized, and used as bait to sell merchandise the same way women’s have? When was the last time you saw a man pose sexually, barely clothed, in a way that didn’t empower him, but that made him an object to be consumed by the masses, as though he were no more than a piece of meat? When was the last time that you ever saw a man being presented in such a one-dimensional way, with nothing accentuated about him whatsoever than his sexual organs, and with any hints to personality or intelligence thrown out the window (i.e. having his head cut off from the photo)? NEVER.

      Women have been historically consistently treated as no better than objects of desire to be consumed by the masses and to sell products, devoid of humanity or emotion or thought. Our bodies have been altered and hurt and dissected, both physically and visually, simply for the pleasure of the males that will consume us. The ramifications of this are endless and horrid: We cannot walk down the street or go to school without being judged for our looks. We are constantly encouraged to judge ourselves and to judge other women. Our entire worth goes into looking as “desirable” as possible, not for us, but for a man. It’s one thing to enjoy being beautiful (I encourage everyone to do so!), it’s another to constantly have to worry about living up to an unattainable standard of beauty. Far too many women and girls have died already from this pursuit for us to stay silent.

      The profits made by these corporations and the pleasure that the masses get from our objectified bodies aren’t worth the horrors that we have to endure. Enough is enough.

      Oh, and by the way, the swimsuit edition is totally porn. As someone who has spent quite a bit of time studying (and enjoying, and hating) porn, I can tell you for a fact that:
      1) These images were created for the sole purpose of sexualizing these women to appeal to male consumers
      2) These male consumers go on to masturbate to the images of these women and fantasize about them, the same way that they would do with porn and fetish models
      3) These women aren’t wearing anything in most cases, thus making it quite clear that the real focus of the swimsuit issue is not swimsuits, the healthy bodies of female athletes, or the girls themselves, but the girls’ sexual body parts and what men dream that they can do to them.

    • meowhouse
      meowhouse02-14-2013

      Thank you for your candid words as everyone is entitled to their opinion. We all should have the right to celebrate our beauty in ways that are deemed tasteful to the general public. However, should the behavior be seductive then let that stay in a venue appropriate for 18 year olds and older. Forcing provocative material via general public airwaves, magazines (displayed at the grocery checkout counter), internet, billboards, junk mail ads and coupons, and movies (inappropriately rated), takes our choices away.
      Individuals with ‘open’ minds that ‘appreciate’ seductive art and media should be satisfied that we live in a society that allows freedom of speech. We can all get along much better when age appropriate material is not mainstreamed for all to see.
      Discretion needs to be exercised and differences respected. I won’t call anyone perverted as long as no one calls me a prude.
      I am greatful you came to this site, and I appreciate your comments. I hope we come away understanding each other with mutual respect.

  27. Jane
    Jane03-01-2012

    The swimsuit issue is completely inappropriate and purely pornography. I can’t believe a young teenage girl is on the cover practically naked. Thank you beautyredefined for this wonderful article. I will always stand by your articles and mission!!!!!!

  28. Kathy
    Kathy03-05-2012

    I wish SI would stop the swimsuit edition. It’s ridiculous, has nothing to with sports, and it really gives the message that women are not beautiful unless they’re practically naked. Taking off your clothes is not an athletic endeavor and has no place in a sports magazine. Actual athletes- people who have spent their whole lives shedding blood, sweat, and tears to rise to the top of their sports- should be offended.

  29. Clay
    Clay03-21-2012

    How can you do a commentary on the 2012 swimsuit edition without a single reference to Chris Paul? That photo shoot was awesome (tic).

    Now that I think about it, I don’t know what it says about us that after looking through all those pages of scantly-clad women, all my buddies and I could talk about was how chubby Chris Paul is for an All-NBA point guard. Probably has something to do with the devaluation of women and only appreciating them for the moment.

  30. Kristin
    Kristin03-21-2012

    Just stumbled onto your website, and couldn’t be more thrilled to see someone speaking out against what has tragically become so mainstream. Porn is so harmful, and is so (puzzingly) accepted by most people – sort of a “boys will be boys” mentality. It’s too bad. I think we should have more confidence in what men are capable of. I have known so many who, far from letting their sex drives control their brains, use their brains to control their sex drives. Three cheers for all of the wonderful men out there who don’t tolerate the objectification of women!!

  31. John
    John04-03-2012

    Just stumbled upon this website. You ladies need to CHILL OUT. As a 23 year old heterosexual male, there is nothing that I find more appealing than a beautiful, scantily clad young woman. It’s not because I am sexist or misogynistic. I’m just a guy. We’re visual and we’re horny. Every time I hear women complain about the “objectification” of other women, I can’t help but think that the women doing the complaining are either ugly or very jealous of attractive females. The models aren’t being forced to do anything against their will. They know that they are attractive, and who can blame them for wanting to make a living modeling?
    When I was 14 there were a few very pretty girls in my class. Some of them were quite developed. Some of them weren’t there yet but had beautiful faces. As a 14 year old boy, I couldn’t believe the bikinis these girls would wear. String bikinis were just becoming popular at the time, and I LOVED seeing these girls I went to school with hardly wearing anything at all. We all went to Catholic schools. The parents of the girls let them wear these tiny strings. Why? Because, believe it or not, not everybody is a prude who thinks that the human body is shameful and that a girl being sexual and using her looks to entice boys is a stupid, immoral slut. Of course, the average and below average girls resented the pretty girls for getting us guys’ attention. Can’t blame them. In the nine years since then, I’ve realized that 1. Girls, beautiful or not, want to look and feel sexy for boys. 2. Girls resent other girls who are more attractive than themselves. 3. Guys, whether straight or gay, are visual creatures who lust after beauty.
    You ladies just need to accept the fact that not everybody is created equal. Believe it or not, men can be very insecure about their looks as well. Being short, having a small penis, or going bald (like I am at a young age) can all eat away at a man. How many bald movie stars do you know? Yes, there’s Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, and Bruce Willis, but they are all complete tools. 99% of guys on TV or in the movies have full heads of hair. Why? Because having a full head of hair on a guy, just like having long legs or big boobs on a girl, is seen as more attractive. Its life.
    And knock it off with the “objectification of women is desensitizing my son/husband and creating an unrealistic and unachievable portrayal of beauty for young girls.” Ladies, if you had any idea what went on in a guys head age from about 13 until the end of his life, you would be FREAKED out. Believe me, looking at young girls in bikinis is mild and not a big deal. Its not like being a nice guy or being in a relationship or getting married magically turns off a guy’s desire for variety. And for the last time, pics of girls in bikinis is NOT pornography.
    Why are you people so prude? The human body (especially the female) is so beautiful. Why not compliment these girls for working out and making their bodies close to perfection? These models aren’t helpless innocent girls who are being exploited by evil men. They are grown women who can think for themselves. And as a man, I am sick of feminists acting like there is something wrong with me because I like looking and pretty scantily clad girls. I am a guy. Nature made me this way. I like big boobs, flat stomachs, round a**es, long legs, striking eyes, shimmering hair, tight pu**ies, straight teeth and pretty faces. SI is a business. You can’t blame them for tapping into the most profitable and reliable market in the history of mankind: sexy women.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined04-04-2012

      Ha ha! Wow, you didn’t even read the story. Sorry you’re angry, but I think it’s misdirected :)

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer04-10-2012

      You are truly pathetic and have no idea what normalized pornography means or what women face every single day.

    • Really?
      Really?05-01-2012

      The fact that you think that it’s OK for women to be used as no more than pieces of meat to sell products to masses of men is disgusting. Is that all my being is to you? A set of sexual organs to be used to fuel your desires and make money? A nice pair of tits and ass to be used as a carrot to dangle in front of your nose?

      Take a seat. You’re disgusting.

      Women have solely been the ones treated like this, NEVER men. You are sexist for buying into this if you’re not going to take a step back and listen to what women have to say about this and why it’s problematic. When it comes to sexism, it’s OUR voices that matter and deserve to be heard, not yours, “23 year old heterosexual male”.

      This has nothing to do with being prude. I, and most other feminists, are sexually liberated. I love sex with my boyfriend. However, there’s more to me than my sexual body parts, and that’s what you fail to see. Until I see you advocating for national magazines that dehumanize and objectify young boys the same way this magazine does to young girls, your opinion means nothing. Oh wait, does the thought of having a 3-page spread in Sports Illustrated showing a young, 19-year old boy in a banana hammock that he’s suggestively pulling down, with his chest and privates emphasized not in an empowering way, but in a dehumanizing, objectifying, vulnerable, exoticized way, and with all vestiges of humanity and personality removed from the picture as his head is cut off from the photo or folded away from it, make you sick? Now what about the thought of young boys being exploited and sexualized this way in every page of most magazines, and on TV, and in films, ads, pictures, and everything else that you consume? Does it make you sick yet? If not, you’re heartless. If so, then why don’t you understand how the exploitation of our bodies on such a grand scale is sickening to us?

      As a man, you will never know what it feels like to experience sexism. You are surrounded by positive, empowering images of yourself in the media. You will never know what it feels like to be made vulnerable, to be shamed constantly for your looks by everyone around you, to constantly be trying to achieve an unattainable standard of beauty, or to be reduced to nothing more than your genitals for other people to use, buy, or sell. You will never know what it’s like to get an eating disorder from seeing so many pictures of women and girls that have proportions that you know you can never achieve. You will never want to kill yourself because of how you look, or have others threaten to kill you because society has conditioned them to view your body as an object, not as a human being.

      You will never know. So until you start thinking with an open mind and start researching this issue and advocating for healthy, realistic, and honest representations of men and women in the media, you need to stay quiet, or stay far away from those of us who are trying to do so.

      • V
        V02-18-2013

        Amen sister.

    • 570
      57005-12-2012

      John’s comment is proof how badly the media has affected both men and women. He only likes round butts, shimmering hair, etc. He basically dissected a woman into parts. No one female has all these: they are either photoshopped, get plastic surgery, hide things, etc. It is also a myth that men are the only ones who are visual, women are too. Women have sexualt thoughts as well.

      How would you feel if it all changed? If hardly any women were shown in a sexual way in the mainstream media? That all you saw were men naked, and you could count easily how many times you saw a naked woman? When you looked at the lad’s mags it was filled with men and how to look as good as them, and then when you looked at what women were looking through it was a very small ideal of how men should be?

      I’ve already seen men complaining about seeing naked men in programmes, etc., even though it is still only a very small percentage of our media. Would you say they were jealous, or ugly? People seem to understand their reasons more and I feel it’s down to a bias, and us being used to seeing women naked for centuries, where as men aren’t sexualised very often. It is shown as a weakness that men shouldn’t be doing. A vulnerability.

      There isn’t anything wrong with being attracted to women, or men. There isn’t anything wrong with liking looking at naked men, or women. It’s how you do it and how one-sided it is. It’s easy for you to say those things because the media is, sort of, in your favour, for now, but how would your opinions be if it was changed?

      And this view is starting to spread into a male ideal, hurting men: more boys are developing eating disorders. Maybe then people will start caring about how disjointed towards each other, and the world we’ve all become.

    • Jessica
      Jessica02-05-2013

      So what John is doing here, is confirming the very problem we are trying to bring awareness to. Thank you John, for making it so damn easy to highlight what’s wrong with society. Being raised under the regime of pornography as “the norm” has given us a population of Johns.

      If it’s ok for men to think that they were “made to be horny”, but that it’s wrong for women to be “over sensitive feminists”…how did we survive this long? Evolution would have made women a LOT hornier if it was “the norm” and required in an evolutionary standpoint. Maybe you boys are just so horny because there is skin everywhere you look?

    • Grace
      Grace02-08-2013

      And there we have it…proof of what we’re fighting so hard against. Thanks for providing an absolutely perfect example of ingrained mysoginy, sexism and male privilege.

  32. S
    S06-26-2012

    I’m a twenty year old young woman who has been struggling with disordered eating and a distorted body image since about the time I turned thirteen. I can honestly say that I love this website and that the information you’ve posted here has helped me to see, somewhat, that I am putting unreasonable expectations on myself by trying to look like the women I see in magazines, movies, and on the television. I have never felt confident in my body because I am constantly comparing myself to other women, women who I think look better than me. I am currently trying to stop engaging in some of my disordered behaviors and I find this website really inspirational when I’m having a bad day and can’t stop thinking about how “fat”, or “ugly” I look.

    Thank you for all the work you put into this website and these stories. As corny as it sounds, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that there’s more to me than just my weights and my looks, and that’s what your website does for me.

  33. Mo
    Mo07-07-2012

    I don’t even know where to begin with John’s comments. I do want to say this, though. It is a MYTH that women aren’t visual. Women are extremely visual. We LOVE looking at good looking guys. We look at more than just butts and bulges, though. We value men’s faces and hands, arms and lots of other parts. All in all I think while we love looking at attractive men (just go on you tube for tons of tribute videos to how “hot and sexy” many actors are!), we are based in something we like to call REALITY. Women by FAR appreciate good looking men but understand that in real life, men aren’t perfect. As John was stating, he seemed to want women to be perfection and thought that unattractive women were somehow angry because they could not attain perfection (as the Photoshopped fake models with tons of makeup, lighting and so on could!) John seems to assume that women in general’s PURPOSE in life is to be attractive to men and if they fail at this, they FAIL AT LIFE. You know what John? I’m visual and I get horny and I have my fantasies but I don’t EXPECT perfection. And there is no way I would sit there looking at a catalog of men in thongs and think that men who don’t like it MUST be UGLY. If you could see past your boner maybe you would understand. Something tells me though that you don’t want to. You enjoy your make privilege and you enjoy demeaning females.

  34. Natalia
    Natalia08-30-2012

    I recently made the unfortunate discovery that my boyfriend is a fan of the current year’s Sports Illustrated cover model that you mention. My boyfriend is actually a rather wonderful guy, he is loving, he always tells me I am beautiful, and sticks to that, even though I recently gained about 20 pounds. When that happened, he never once told me that he thought I should lose weight. He also likes to say that he is progressive when it comes to women’s rights and, in a lot of ways, he is. However, upon discovering that he was a fan of this particular female, I must admit that many of my images of him were shattered. He always claimed to be more of a fan of the “natural” look on girls… I guess what he meant was natural breasts, not natural, untouched photographs. It also caused me to really feel insecure for a few days. This model does have huge breasts and I do not… I never will. After carrying this horrible feeling around for a few days, I looked deeper into it and I made this discovery about how messed up our male dominated society truly is! I won’t say that I hate this particular model but I do hate what she allows herself to represent. I have heard from many guys that she is essentially “a pair of breasts.” (maybe in a bit more vulgar language). Now I’m sure she is making her money and possibly enjoying the admiration but does she realize that she is not doing her fellow women ANY favors? That she is allowing us to be kept further down by allowing herself to be objectified? She probably does not, as she is young and I, at the age of 30, just recently stopped to think about the crazy ways of this world. Anyway, I know I am saying a lot here. More than anything else, I’d really like to thank you ladies for what you are doing. We need to end this cycle, empower ourselves, and stop allowing ourselves to be objects at men’s disposal. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t enjoy being beautiful but we need to realize that there is more to us than simply our breasts, our legs, or our hips. We are more than our parts!

    • Stacy
      Stacy11-21-2012

      I recently read an article that said Kate Upton landed a Super Bowl commericial for Mercedes-Benz and will be strutting around in a swimsuit. Pretty disguisting!

  35. Tessa
    Tessa10-05-2012

    Hi there – found your site while doing some research. Do you have anything published (for some reason blogs don’t carry as much weight as journals) that I can use to reference for my Masters research? I like your writing style and that you make established academia accessible to your audience, thank you I believe that it’s important to do this.

    Thanks for your help

    Tessa

  36. Amanda
    Amanda02-06-2013

    It sickens me to see what this is doing to the men and women around me. How can they not only pass it off as not a porn magazine but claim that it has anything to do with sports!

  37. Minerva Ponce
    Minerva Ponce02-08-2013

    I don’t understand how so many don’t put two and two together. There is a connection between the sexual objecification of women in magazines, and all forms of media and little girls having low self-esteem, developing eating disorders, and feeling the pressure to be sexy and sexual to feel valuable. Add to that the fact that boys grow up seeing all of this and it affects the way they interact with girls.

  38. Melissa
    Melissa02-08-2013

    I love your post! This speaks to me in so many ways. In my senior year of high school, about fifteen years ago, I did an entire presentation on media and body image for women. I still believe it holds true today, if not moreso. Unfortunately, now we’ve also got “feminists” swinging the other way and almost trying to objectify men as a backlash. You know what? Let’s call all people to avoid objectifying each other. Just because one sex does it, it doesn’t mean the other needs to follow suit. Let’s call everyone to a higher level of thinking, not just sink down to an even plane.

    We are all human beings. Turning anyone into an object is WRONG! It denies the very dignity of that person. We are all so special and beautiful in our own way; men and women. To reduce people to a sum of their parts just cheapens that beauty. I’m saddened that there are women who are willing to allow themselves to be put in this situation. I’m sad that they’ve fallen for the lies that this is what they need to do to be wanted. The truth is, they are rewarded with attention and adoration but it rings hollow because they will never know if what they receive relates to who they are as a whole human being or what one part somebody is satisfied with for now. My heart aches for people to have a more full understanding of their worth! (And that of others.)

  39. Daisy Mae
    Daisy Mae02-08-2013

    A lot of people are not going to “get” this post. It requires deep thinking, reflection, an open mind and intelligence. It also requires “ah-ha” moments which not everyone experiences. And then there are readers who have knee-jerk reactions against anything they think is “feminist” because that, of course, means hating men.
    However I am hopeful as I see many younger generation females “getting” the insulting nature of the total overload of porn-ified and objectified women’s bodies and beauty. You two women writing this blog provide an excellent role model.

  40. Amber Waite
    Amber Waite02-09-2013

    I’m disgusted by the way women are objectified in magazines. It ruins women and men alike by the unhealthy attitudes it promotes. I would never purchase Sports Illustrated or let any in my family purchase it because they print the swimsuit addition. It’s very offensive.

  41. JP
    JP02-10-2013

    I remember coming across my dad’s stash of SI issueswhen I was a kid, then as I got older, noticing them come in the mail. I hated myself every time I saw one of those magazines, knowing this was the type of woman that was desired by the type of man i respected (my father). And I was heartbroken for my mother. Their marriage ended in divorce, by the way. I respect her for leaving him. Of course this wasn’t the reason, but a r society. symptom of a larger problem. I too despair for our society and the objectification of women which leads to violence and pain. Oh, and congrats on your profits, Sports Illustrated.

  42. S. Dorais
    S. Dorais02-12-2013

    I am trying really hard not to get angry as I ask the following: how do women submit to such a thing? How can a human being submit to being a commodity?

    From Kate Upton’s interview: “My mom’s in my ear going ‘I told you not to go there. It’s a bad idea!’” – referring to photo shoot in the Antarctica. I can’t help but wonder if this is ALL that her mother told her?

    She is also going on about being excited to be part of history (?) — ummm…what?

    I know, I should not say the above, but this is really frustrating. It seems like we, the women are sabotaging our own well being. I do realize that I am stating the obvious, but come on, men are not entirely to blame for this.
    By blaming men, we are degrading women as if they are easily manipulated into being objects through no fault of their own (read: they are THAT stupid) and we have nothing to say to them (perhaps they will not understand anyway). We are condoning this behaviour.

    How about a little note to women? Perhaps a harsh one?

    Anyways, nice article, nice initiative. Thank you. And thank you on behalf of my two girls, aged 5 and 3….

    • meowhouse
      meowhouse02-25-2013

      Wow! she felt she was making history? Her pornographic behavior qualifies her for a feat of bravery, ingenuity, or humanitarian efforts? Lord help us all if she runs for office….

  43. Peyton-Leigh
    Peyton-Leigh02-12-2013

    It makes me sick to think about how hard women had to fight just to have a voice in this world and so many are taking steps back by just being the “pretty face” or the “hot one.” I have 2 young daughters and was livid this morning when, while just trying to get 10 minutes of the major headlines before starting our day, I had to fast forward (thankfully, it was recorded on dvr and I had a buffer!) because they plastered the SI cover on the screen. Our girls should be learning about strong women who were admired, not for their cup size or how much they would bare, but for what they stood for and how they contributed to making a better world!

    And we wonder why so many men are addicted to porn now. They grew up with this kind of junk coming to their homes and desensitizing them. Nothing good or productive comes from it!

  44. Monica Henry
    Monica Henry02-13-2013

    I also find it very sad that this is really the only way women are featured in Sports Illustrated….how many actual female athletes, and women’s sports, are really featured in SI over the year? And, even when they are, they often “sex” them up. Our Beauty Redefined sticky notes just arrived and I am taking them to the Women’s Talking Circle (support group) that I facilitate and we are going to discuss this article (and I printed out several pictures from the swimsuit edition) and then I will distribute sticky note pads to the participants so that they can use them as they see fit. Thank you for providing such an awesome resource. It is very empowering to be able to “fight back” : )

  45. kathleen
    kathleen02-16-2013

    John, you and other young men are not able to tell the difference between sexy and sexist (degrading on the basis of sex). The reason you cannot tell the difference is because you have never experienced it: the visceral gut reaction you get from being bombarded daily with your own sexuality abused, denigrated and taken out of context.

    Sexy is respectful in that it stays within its context (e.g. a sexy woman in body cream or lingerie ad). Sexist is disrespectful because sexuality is used out of context, or the gender is denigrated in some way. So a half-naked woman draped across the hood of a car is sexist, because she is used as an object whose sexuality is in no way related to the selling features of the car, perpetuating the stereotype that women are just good for one thing. Out of context emphasis on sex is now outlawed in some European countries. A sitcom which infantilizes men is also sexist, because it, too, perpetuates a stereotype that men are stupid, unreliable and unable to take care of themselves or others. The end result is the same, the man or woman feels targeted, misrepresented and devalued by these media images.

    Did you see how violently men reacted to the Super Bowl Calvin Klein ad? Perhaps men are even more sensitive than women to the media’s use of their own sexuality; they’re just not used to that sort of visual assault. Women are all too used to sexist female images in public places, and suffer greatly from it, especially when they are young.

    The worst damage, however, is on children. This material should never be mainstream to begin with. It undermines children’s confidence, their ability to become responsible adults, their sense of physical and sexual security, and their view of the world around them. The connection of sports with sex is all the more damaging. It sends very confusing messages to both boys and girls. Porn is porn; it needs to be called what it really is, not disguised as an alternative sports venue; it needs to be kept in the adult section of the magazine rack, not on daytime TV, not anywhere in public where it can be easily seen by children and teenagers. It is not acceptable public material. Those who want it can actively solicit it; and those who are not interested in it should not have it imposed on them. One group’s freedom should not infringe on the other’s.

    Read Guyland by Michael Kimmel. You are in his demographic and I guarantee you that you’ll be changed by this book. Also, you will be speaking a different language when or if you have children of your own. My generation is largely responsible for this fiasco, and we are trying to reverse this tidal wave before it engulfs our own children. You are young enough to be my son, but my kids are still teenagers. I fear for them, because I have seen this get progressively worse over the past 30 years. It is now proven that this material is a direct contributor to violence against women and girls, not to mention their diminished quality of life, something you could never, ever relate to, if you are a middle-class white man. Not only are girls and women psychologically assaulted by these images, which can be highly embarrassing in public, they also grow up fearing for their safety and sexual integrity. Boys and young men are negatively affected also – read Guyland, it’s all there.

    SI does the SI because your demographic is a highly sought-after one by advertisers. Apparently, you’re a good source of revenue for them. The models do it for the money. The models, their agencies and SI are prostituting themselves. Si then ensnares the readers/voyeurs and feeds on their angst. We now have the dichotomy of “good business” destroying our social fabric and our economy.

    If you still have trouble relating, just do one simple thing, imagine the reverse of the Swimsuit issue, or any other publicly available material that uses female sexuality. You don’t even have to figure out whether it’s sexy or sexist. Just reverse it and pretend it’s a man instead, every time you come across a sexy picture that catches your attention. It’s a man and there are no pretty half-naked or naked women, just gorgeous half-naked or naked men (and fully dressed women ogling them). Now imagine if life was always that way.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined02-16-2013

      Wow, that was beautiful. Thank you for your eloquence!! Love this response.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen02-16-2013

        Thank you! Although I realize body image is the prime concern on this blog, I focused more on another aspect: that of the blatant insult women feel when such material is imposed on the general public as mainstream, and when sexuality, no matter how mild, is taken out of its context. This creates no-go public spaces for women and girls (as if such private spaces didn’t already exist in disturbing numbers), hurting younger women and girls psychologically, making them feel unsafe, and diminishing their self-esteem and quality of life, while reinforcing an already socially-ingrained attitude of entitlement – to power and sex – in boys and men, or at the very least, tellling them this is all OK and good.

  46. Julia
    Julia02-16-2013

    My husband subscribed to SI and when we received the swimsuit edition in the mail this week it went straight into the recycling dumpster. There was no way I was bringing that into my house.

  47. Deborah Gardner
    Deborah Gardner02-16-2013

    Thank you for this article, full of solid facts and such compelling, truthful commentary! Thank you for your courage and candor. It’s time SI changes, and changes for good. Please let SI know that even though there are some women (like their models) who choose to be objectified, that the majority of women world-wide DO NOT. If the men in India viewed women as the equal, respectable, smart and special humans that we are, then there is no way that the recent horrific bus gang rape (which resulted in killing the victim) would have ever taken place–ever! SI’s Swimsuit Issue has helped mold society’s warped and objectified ideas/beliefs about women for decades, and the only people who suffer not the chauvenistic, voyueristic men who profit or look at the magazine, but the innocent, good women the world over who have done nothing to deserve such disgraceful treatment and abuse! Thank you Beauty Redefined for your work, please continue on this crusade, and we will be here to fight with you every step of the way!

  48. Rebecca LaDuca
    Rebecca LaDuca02-16-2013

    As the breastfeeding mother of two boys I thank you for continuing to address this issue on a public forum, for many reasons. Especially with the implementation of (finally!) national breastfeeding protections in the ACA, it is a pivotal time to address these cultural dysfunctions openly. I applaud your bravery and wit.

  49. Alison L-O
    Alison L-O02-16-2013

    Thank you so much for the article! And I’m so glad I’m not alone! I just went to the grocery store (with my two young children) and found special displays of the SI swimsuit issue at the checkout. Lovely! I am so frustrated that this is deemed as acceptable in a grocery store, let alone what it means for gender equality. I hope I’m not the only one that complained to Kroger tonight!

  50. Danielle
    Danielle02-17-2013

    Ladies! You should be ashamed of yourselves. Your attacks on John are unacceptable (scroll up if you didn’t catch his post- it’s a long one, and very enlightening- can’t miss it).
    How is it ok to get so upset with someone who clearly has brain damage? Poor lil’ guy…

  51. V
    V02-18-2013

    It took me far too long to be able to understand and identify why I was so unhappy with my own body, despite being a successful student – unrealistic images of women in the media. Everywhere I turned there was a perfect woman to compare myself with. I wish I’d been given the skills to deconstruct these images in high school, to realise that wanting to be blonde and tanned and busty was never going to happen and that accepting and celebrating myself and my mind was far more important. Reading articles like this help to keep me focused on what’s important and keeps me aware of how I’m being manipulated by media and advertising to feel anxious.

  52. Julia
    Julia02-18-2013

    Thank you for taking the time to put this story together. It is infuriating the way that a “sports magazine” is whole sale exploiting these young models. If they told them to keep their actual swimsuits on I am sure that they would be more than happy to do it. I cannot trust the credibility of a magazine that is selling these women for a buck under the guise of anything but a pornographic magazine. For sure sports illustrated will not find its way into my house or anywhere near my family. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with celebrating beauty or sports for that matter, but I am disgusted and offended by the assumption that for a female that is synonymous with nudity.

  53. Meg
    Meg02-19-2013

    Yes yes yes. Thank you for this. Things like this tear at otherwise healthy relationships, and such visual stimuli should not be readily available, let alone shoved in our faces.

  54. Anne McManus
    Anne McManus02-19-2013

    Thank you for your research and work in this area – it’s so important. As the wife of someone who has struggled with addiction to pornography I know first hand how harmful this stuff that is so readily available and in our faces can be. And now as a mother of a beautiful daughter I’m even more worried about the objectification and sexualization of women. Please keep doing what you’re doing.

  55. kathleen
    kathleen02-20-2013

    Note to BeautyRedefnined about a response to SI:

    Communicating these concerns to SI is, in my opinion, a waste of energy unless they see a way to turn this into a marketing opportunity that outweighs the current success of their sexist material. It is evident that the men and women directing these far too powerful corporations are, paradoxically, powerless in the face of such compelling market forces. They simply have no incentive to care about the negative impact on society as a whole when they promote gender myths and spread lies about both men and women in what has become an insidious form of hate propaganda. It’s all perfectly legal, and apparently profitable. The vicious cycle is self-perpetuating.

    Obviously, partially naked or naked women whose purpose is to sell sexual fantasies don’t belong in a sports magazine worthy of that name. Such fantasy material is called porn. Porn magazines don’t belong in uncontrolled display areas accessible to children and highly visible to the general public.

    I see only one solution. It’s high time for our governments to step up to this plate and enact tougher laws to restore our freedom from having sexist and sexually explicit material continually imposed on us, visually and psychologically assaulting us and our children in public spaces as we go about our daily business.

    It is also time to demand of our legislators that men and women be represented equally, respectfully, in all forms of media, including adult fantasy material, and in all venues for adult entertainment. It’s the only way to reach gender equality and respect. Anything less breeds a gross imbalance of power, perpetuating rape myths and reinforcing gendered violence. This annihilates girls’ and women’s chances of leading dignified and safe lives, while it encourages aggression in men and boys. We live in a closed system. When one group is abused or bullied, no one wins.

    SI won’t respond. If it does, it will be with condescending rhetoric. In general, the media has proven itself incapable of self-regulation. A political movement is what is needed, with demonstrations such as the ones we saw during the last Presidential campaign, in which abortion resurfaced, and men and women stood together to denounce the “war on women” which was in effect a war on fundamental rights and freedoms.

    This issue needs to be escalated to the level of One Billion Rising (or as part of that movement) in order to reverse the tide of social regression that has plagued the last couple of decades.

  56. Sandi
    Sandi02-20-2013

    Sorry your stickers are a cowards approach. It’s kids stuff.

  57. Marisa
    Marisa02-22-2013

    I applaud you women for standing up for truth. It is such a relief to read something on the subject of porn that makes sense. I am sad that my children are growing up in such a sexualized society. Human beings are so much more than the sum of their body parts! Women are objectified at every turn and we have both men and women to blame. We (women) have become our own worst critics; we buy into the need to be perfect, we have accepted unattainable standards, and it is easy to be allured into the power (although fleeting) that comes from objectifying ourselves.

    It would be awesome if porn were distributed like cigarettes, with a Surgeon General’s warning about what consuming the product does. Anyone want to sign up for low self-esteem, skewed body image, unrealistic expectations, emotional numbing, disconnection from other human beings, fractured real-life sexual relationships, eating disorders, lack of self-care, addiction, anxiety or depression? At first glance, it seems so harmless, but the truth is that when human beings are presented as objects, it is a LIE every time. Its just a lie packaged really pretty.

    Whenever we see porn in our family, we like to talk about the lies that the billboard/magazine/commercial is peddling, and then list the counter-truths. It is awesome to dissect it for what it is and feel the peace of knowing where true self-worth comes from. I actually think someday we are going to win this fight. Women are simply too smart and capable to allow this nonsense to continue.

  58. Sarah T
    Sarah T02-24-2013

    Thank you for this. I struggled with weight when I was younger; it damaged my self esteem and even after I lost the weight I still was bothered by the ideals that are shoved down both genders’ throat in today’s media. However, whenever I spoke out about the damage it did to girls and women, the responses were always that I was too attractive to bothered by it, or that I was being jealous or catty. It’s refreshing that there are women out there who do not want to be valued only by there looks, because after all beauty is fleeting. Thanks again for getting the word out, and if nothing else, making me feel more sane.

  59. Daniela
    Daniela03-10-2013

    Thank you Sports Illustrated for your coffee table porn. And for perpetuating the sexist stereotypes of women and girls in your magazine.

    SI contributes to the sexualisation of girls and women in our society accompanied by a slew of emotional and psychological harm such as eating disorders and disordered body image.

    Thank you SI for throwing women and girls under the bus for your profit margins.

  60. Connie
    Connie03-13-2013

    I have tears in my eyes and I can hardly breathe after reading the article and the comments above. I have felt all alone on this topic. I also feel the SI Swimsuit issue is soft porn. The fact that it is accepted by seemingly every retail store as appropriate material for their checkout lanes is shocking. As noted by everyone, it has more pictures of women in states of undress or naked than anything else. There are no sports in this magazine, objectifing women in the magazine is the sport! Why not put Playboy and Hustler there why too? I agree, if this kind of treatment was the norm for men, it wouldn’t be. They wouldn’t let it happen to them. Why not start a petition to send out to retail stores complaining about it, maybe if we take a stand they might have to? I’ll sign it!

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined03-13-2013

      Connie! You’re so not alone! Are you a fan of our page on Facebook? You’d see that there are literally thousands of others (women AND men) just like you, feeling exactly the same. Thanks for reading. Read all of our posts – you’ll feel the same way. We are fighting so hard to be a voice for people like you – to give you words to express the way you’ve been feeling all along. Please share our message far and wide! And join us on Fbook. You’ll see how awesome this movement is :) https://www.facebook.com/TakeBackBeauty

    • Leisa
      Leisa02-24-2014

      I’ll sign it too! You basically expressed the same exact thing I did. How many people have told you to seek therapy for your “insecurity” issues? What a sad society we are raising our children in. Who is it that really needs the therapy?

  61. Jill
    Jill04-18-2013

    We need to find a way to shut this issue of the magazine down.I also think we should call out the models that are doing this.They need to understand the harm they are doing.

  62. tess
    tess04-20-2013

    As a 60 year old former flight attendant for two companies (when looks and your measurements mattered) and San Francisco Playboy Bunny, I feel SI is definitely soft core porn being passed off and passed around like meat or candy. After being objectified in my life, it has hit me that we have not come a long way baby. I think it is terrible that a sport magazine is trying to parade around that they are women liberators instead of women cagers. Possibly women haters…making money off the flesh off the girls who feel they can’t make the big bucks any other way.

  63. Joyful
    Joyful04-23-2013

    I was in the grocery store yesterday and I saw the Surfer Magazine swimsuit edition, with a very similar cover to the one at the beginning of this article. It makes me sad.

  64. Leisa
    Leisa02-24-2014

    Thank You all so much!
    I’m almost in tears right now because I’ve been feeling like something is wrong with me for years. I dread February. You literally cannot go into a grocery store, gas station, 7-11, ANYWHERE, without having this S,I garbage directly in your face. I unfortunately picked up last years issue in a salon to try and prove to myself that it “wasn’t as bad as the cover”. This has nothing to do with swimwear at all. I’ve been ridiculed so many times for commenting at how inappropriate this is, that I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I’ve been told I need “therapy” for my insecurity issues. No, I don’t want my kids having to see this, I don’t want to see it, and I certainly don’t want to think my husband is one of the men huddled in a corner at work with it. It’s hard enough trying to teach my son to respect women, and my three daughters to feel good about themselves and their bodies. Maybe I’m not the one who needs therapy after all. I’ve noticed that Cosmo. and some of the other magazines use covers. S.I is ten times worse than any of them, so why is it acceptable for them to display blatant nudity in family oriented businesses?! I’m disgusted, but at least I know I’m not alone, or a ”defect” for feeling this way. By the way, I’m fit, and just fine with my body, but I’m not going to go to the homes of these S.I models, naked, and shove my behind up their family’s noses. Wonder how they would like it?

    • Cynthia Hopper
      Cynthia Hopper02-25-2014

      I greatly enjoyed this post and blog. Over the years I have grown wise. I have learned that the objectification of women is intolerable. For a while, in my earlier years, I just accepted the fact that women were used sexually for ads, movies, visual enjoyement etc. I suppose women were more prone to accept these things some decades ago. It’s not okay. It’s not okay that I cannot sit down with my spouse and watch a movie without having to see a woman’s breasts. Many will just say, “well you don’t have to watch it, you don’t have to buy it, etc. etc.” It’s disturbing that it has become the norm. It’s disturbing that I am expected to accept it. I refuse. Some men, and some women as well, will say that my words reflect that of a jealous women; however, I am not jealous of the naked objects I see. In truth, I am angry. I am angry that women allow themselves to be used and objectified. If there is any jealousy present, it is that while my husband gets eyefuls of breasts throughout movies, he then is not forced with an eyeful of penis. I realize I am focusing on the cinema and this post was about SI, but they are both related. I do agree that SI is epitome of objectification. Sure women’s bodies are beautiful, but there is more to us than our bodies. Moreover, our bodies should pleasure those we choose to become intimate with. Our bodies shouldn’t be pleasuring complete strangers, or selling a magazine, or making a movie producer millions etc.

    • Sad
      Sad03-08-2014

      yes! I was really dismayed at the grocery store to see how far they went with the 2014 issue. Nothing but bare a**es? Geeze. It’s really too much. I too am sick of people saying “you can just not look”. No, I can’t. Now that all the news outlets are chasing porn clicks, I can’t read a single piece of media without being exposed to references to porn, rape, anal sex, etc. A few years ago this would have been unfathomable. We need the government to act to keep these things separate in our daily lives.

      Also, reading random mens comments on the internet(like the commenter above) has left me severely depressed and triggered (I’m a survivor). Before the internet I at least thought men were similar to women as in we are both human. Now I understand that men only pay lipservice to our humanity when they have to, but actually only think of us as “tight pu**ies and a**es”. I long for the days before the internet when I never once heard a man refer to a woman as “pu**y”. So disgusting and sad. Thanks for writing this piece as it makes me feel less alone.

  65. Sad
    Sad03-09-2014

    Hey,

    If you are going to edit and censor the “bad” words in my comment, then you need to censor the same words in john the perverts comment above. I was simply quoting him, but you didn’t censor his comment. If you are going to censor, be consistent.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined03-09-2014

      Yikes, thanks for pointing that out! His comment has been edited now. That was somehow completely missed before. We speak to girls as young as 8 years old constantly and direct them to our website, so we have to do minor editing here and there. Thanks for the heads-up.

  66. Sad
    Sad03-10-2014

    Thanks for being fair.

    Comments like his show up all over the internet these days and honestly, I’m tired of it. Before the internet there was a basic assumption that you could go about your day and not be exposed to “adult” material. Perhaps there was “locker room” talk, but if you weren’t in the locker room you wouldn’t be exposed to it. I really am not impressed with the SI models since they give the impression that they are happy to be displayed like objects, and their participation in this degrading media is an insult to other women. Being photographed in a bikini isn’t bad, but the way they posed the cover with emphasis on their naked b*tts is seriously objectifying and doesn’t belong at the grocery check out.
    .
    It seems that no matter what the topic there is always some male who has to trot into the comments section and say objectifying and sexual things about women. The media outlets encourage it by running “stories” about p*rn stars and other s*xually explicit topics, and since the FCC does not have jurisdiction over the internet they get away with printing obscene material daily.

    I have a journalism degree, but I do not work in the media because I don’t want to be exposed to daily s*xual harassment and threats. My female friends who do work in the media are subject to the most vile and s*xually abusive speech daily from commenters but are told by their bosses to “get thicker skin”. I thought women were supposed to be protected by s*xual harassment at work, but because of the popularity of the internet female journalists are expected to tolerate horrific abuse because no one cares enough to stop it. Also, I feel bad for young girls who have to grow up surrounded by material that 10 years ago would not be allowed outside an adult bookstore and would be pulled from the shelves for being obscene.

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