Dear Sports Illustrated, STOP PRETENDING Your Swimsuit Issue Is Empowering Women

Dear Sports Illustrated,

Hey. What’s up? Ok, enough pleasantries. Let’s get down to business.

I hear your newest Swimsuit Issue is going to contain not just scantily clad women in swimwear, but completely naked women covering up their nudey bit with their limbs and “empowering” words written all over them in marker or something. I even hear you let the naked women CHOOSE which words would be emblazoned on their flesh. KUDOS on that one. Super-liberating. The New Yorker says your “In Her Own Words” feature in the softcore porn swimsuit issue is  being marketed as “an aesthetic evolution fitting for the #MeToo age,” but I say it’s just another way to try and sell an issue whose sales have been flagging since they advent of constantly available Internet porn.

Well, Sports Illustrated, I’m not buying it, then, now, or ever.

Taking the swimsuits OFF your models and writing words on their bodies like “nurturer” and “creative” doesn’t do much to push forward the idea that women deserve to have their whole persons respected and to be seen as more than sex objects.

You’re part of the problem. You’re in the business of objectifying women, and a naked photo feature within a magazine filled with sexy swimsuit shots and sand-spotted cleavage is a JOKE, and a foolish one at that.

It’s clever that you let a woman editor be in charge on this feature — when women such as myself clap back at it’s ridiculousness, you’ll have a woman to blame.

If you want to empower women, stop selling sex on your pages. Your swimsuit issue exists to sexually excite men with sexy photos of women; there is no other reason for it. Studies show that repeated exposure to images like these re-wires the brain so that the women in the photos – and all women – are viewed more as objects than people. Writing the word “progressive” across a woman’s naked torso will do NOTHING to change that.

Nice try, though. Not that you were really trying. I know a publicity stunt when I see one, and it’s working, because I’m giving you publicity, I suppose. But I hope I’m also EMPOWERING mothers like myself to SPEAK OUT against what you are doing. I think you should SCRAP the swimsuit issue and stick to what you’re good at: sports. And if you want to EMPOWER women and girls, do an issue solely on the amazing Olympic athletes we’re having the privilege to watch right now. Feature them fully clothed, in their performance gear: ski suits and ice dancing dresses, spiky luge gloves and bobsled helmets. protective eyewear and padding for snowboarding. Show these strong, hard-working women covered HEAD TO TOE in their PROFESSIONAL dress, and I will give you some empowerment points.

Until then, just call your softcore porn what it is. None of us are fooled, and you’ll save yourself the embarrassment of being a total farce. With this “In Her Own Words” photo essay, you’re not just objectifying women, you’re INSULTING OUR INTELLIGENCE.

Other than that, enjoy your Monday.



Read this next: A Letter to Sports Illustrated From an 11-Year-Old Boy

Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.

Related Posts


Recent Stories