Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition: Offensive or Expected?

This may be old news by now, but in one of my courses a debate began regarding this years Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover photo. In case you haven’t seen it, it is a photograph of three supermodels topless with their backs to the camera, wearing something that barely qualifies as a bathing suit bottom. I would post the picture but I’m not sure if it is necessarily “safe for work” or “safe for class blog”, so I’m going to suggest you do a Google search.

This is the best selling swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated with 260 pages, it is the thickest edition since 1989. It is no secret that people aren’t “reading” this one purely for the stories…after all, this is a men’s magazine. It is also not a secret that this swimsuit edition situation occurs every single year…so why are people freaking out?

People are trying to connect this cover to the debate over how we objectify women in today’s society. We place too much pressure on women to look like the three women on the cover of the magazine, and are giving women unrealistic expectations for their bodies. I agree, that we place too much attention on how women look but I can definitely say that this cover didn’t offend me at all. Like I said before, this issue isn’t a secret and comes out every year. I think the cover was done tastefully and is overall a good photograph of the women, in my opinion. If you do not want to read the issue then don’t read the issue.

I understand the debate though when it comes down to print advertising. Print is losing a war to digital advertising, but this issue serves as heavy reinforcements. With 800,000 copies of the swimsuit edition last year, it is quite apparent that more people are purchasing when there’s a pretty girl on the cover. That shouldn’t be the selling point, but that’s the sad fact of life. Women are always going to have standards placed on them by other people. People are going to want to see these photographs. The objectification should stop, but I’m not sure how realistic that goal truly is when so many people do it. 



Sebastian, M. (n.d.). Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Is the Thickest Since the First Bush Administration. Advertising Age Media RSS. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from thickest-1989/291741/

8 thoughts on “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition: Offensive or Expected?

  1. I agree. I do not see anything offensive in the new cover. Like you said, the article comes out every year, and the same drama is going to come up each year. Some may see it as a form of objectifying women, but it’s also a form of empowerment. Dove’s body campaign shows “real” women in their undies, yet people praise the campaign. Here, thinner women are showing off their bodies, and are looked down upon. I think society can be very hypocritical.


  2. I agree too. There isn’t anything offensive. We buy the issues, thus reinforcing the magazine and what it represents. If people truly see it as objectification, then don’t buy the magazine and take action instead of merely talking about it. It takes a lot of courage for these women to be “half dressed” on the cover of a magazine, and that shows confidence and a healthy body image. We should be much more supportive of these things as a society.


  3. Well, I’m taking action against Air New Zealand because they’ve got these women doling out emergency safety instructions on their in-flight safety vid. Families can’t exactly avoid that now can they? It’s one thing to have it available for purchase, quite another to have it “mandatory viewing” in a safety video. Join me in asking Air New Zealand to keep the adult entertainment industry where it belongs–in the optional purchase category for adults, and adults only. RT petition asking @kiweets @FlyAirNZ to stop rollout of sexualized SI safety vid! Thx!


  4. I completely agree with the first comment. It’s very hypocritical that thicker women revealing their bodies are seen as “real” and beautiful, but when thin women do it it’s demeaning and objectifying. Referring to thin girls as too thin is no less wrong than referring to thick girls as far. Like previously stated, the Dove campaign shows women in their underwear and nothing else, and that isn’t objectifying?


  5. Sports Illustrated is an overrated, pathetic attempt at advertising. This issue is the only reason the print magazine stays relevant. It’s mildly pornographic without having to be classified as “Mild Pornography.” I can’t wait until people are sick of seeing ultra thin/photoshopped women who practically look the same every single year in a magazine that is supposed to be about sports.


  6. This is a boring argument. It is Sport Illustrated Swim Suit Edition. There will be bikini clad girls on the cover. No one objects when Lily Aldridge is in the same style shots for Victorias Secret! Chrissy Teigen has posted naked photos on Instagram. Nina Agdal is already a prominent model. People need to stop being so prudent, accept the human body as beautiful, and focus on something that actually effects us.


  7. I think that every year Sport Illustrated tries to get riskier and riskier with their cover photos. I don’t necessarily see this as something bad because this is just their way of advertising and making the magazine exciting since it hasn’t been as popular in recent years.


  8. I truly don’t understand the relevance of a swimsuit edition with a sports magazine… I might understand more if they were female athletes or something but this is not the case. However, simply put: sex sells. And this is why SI continues to produce this issue year after year.


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