You know that old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”? The most recent Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has proven exactly what that means. By featuring size 16 model Ashley Graham on its cover, the magazine supposedly made a bold statement. It showed that beauty comes in all sizes, or at least in sizes other than thin. As a full-figured gal myself, I have long wished that magazines and other media would stop exalting tiny, skinny women. And I applaud Sport Illustrated for trying.

But really, I cringe when I see the photos of Graham sprawled by the ocean, back arched, head lolling, her position suggestive and seductive. This is not what I had in mind when I wished for inclusion. To be fair, Sports Illustrated gave its thinner models the same salacious treatment. So it could be argued that the magazine exploits all its swimsuit models equally, regardless of size.

I take no comfort in that. Yes, bigger women can be as attractive as others. I would even venture to say that there are at least as many full-figured women as petite ones in this country; and therefore we should be featured in ads, television shows and more.

But being welcomed into a group that is objectified and exploited is not the answer. It simply validates objectification and exploitation. And what Sports Illustrated does with its annual swimsuit issue is a sham. In 55 issues a year, the magazine features quality, in-depth reporting and stunning photography. Then for one week in February, the gloves and pretty much everything else comes off, as the magazine shifts into soft-core porn mode.

How can they get away with this? This being America, quite easily. According to Business Insider, Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition sells between 10 and 15 times as many copies as its regular issues. Customers demand T & A, publishers publish T & A. And if the T’s and A belong to a full-figured woman, so be it.

Okay, so the decision-makers at Sports Illustrated made an effort to be inclusive, and that’s a step. I’m just not sure it’s one they made in the right direction.

With a Perspective, I’m Linda Gebroe.

Linda Gebroe lives in San Francisco. 

S.I.’s Full Sized Sham 8 March,2016Natalie Yemenidjian

  • Cleavetoo

    I hated this perspective. It reeked of, “I didn’t like it so it can’t exist.” I can assure the author of this perspective that the SI Swimsuit edition is not promoted to people her age. In fact there are many products present in our society that are not marketed to my age that I might find distasteful but that my 22 year old son would completely love. There are many products that I used to enjoy as a young man that I no longer find palatable. That doesn’t mean it’s exploitative or wrong in any fashion. In fact, the elevator music I listen to in my older years that’s not palatable to my children isn’t wrong either. We need to stop acting like everything is for everyone. This is your opinion, fine. But I hate that the rest of us have to be privy to so much minutia..even that I felt the need to write this opinion on another person’s lame opinion is pretty lame. Let’s grow up a little or act like grown ups and recognize that young people’s needs and wants and likes are completely different than the mature set and move on.

  • Another Mike

    As a Western, heterosexual male, I’m not looking forward to the Sports Illustrated Burqa Edition.

  • Cranky

    Please explain how these women were exploited. Most have been in the issue before, they are well compensated, they do it of their own choice, they do it to further their careers. It is well know that being on the cover or inside can make a modeling or acting career. Is modeling exploitive? is acting? They are all pro models or pro athletes (Ronda Rousey and Lindsay Vonn). They know exactly why they are doing it and thousands, if not millions, of other women would do it if given the choice. Get over it, they are not exploited. If they are being objectified look at every women’s magazine on the news rack and you will see similar photos. Women choosing on their own to be photographed in swim suits has been going on since swim suits were invented.

  • TheEmproror

    An authoritarian perspective, which seemed to advocate prescribing what people can or cannot enjoy. The author succeeds in countering most of her own arguments by pointing the huge commercial success of SI when it prints images she disapproves of. Just because people like to look at attractive women. how does it trans;ate into disrespect of women? I find it challenging to divine what sort of extremist dogma moves the the author towards what is a subtle, thinly veiled loathing of straight males and their natural, healthy and innocuous preferences. I say this in view of her attempt to stigmatize the consumption of harmless products which appeal to us. As should be the case of those of all genders, I am proud to be a male and, as should be the case of people of all sexual orientations, I am also proud to be heterosexual. Regarding the author’s highly flawed arguments on exploitation and objectification – no need to torpedo these – the other comments by Cleavetoo and Cranky do this perfectly well.

  • ES Trader

    We live in a society where by law a victim of the health care system has absolutely no recourse against the industry ( medical ) after 2 years regardless of the circumstances and the “permanent” effects including death following mis diagnosis and malpractice. However a woman sportscaster can sue and be awarded $55 million because a peeping tom videoed/posted a fuzzy,unrecognizable vid online.

    Capitalism is the economy of free enterprise and as long as no laws are broken, blaming SI for giving teen adolescent boys & young straight males in order to capitalize on their “wants” seems trivial and misplaced.

    Public tastes change, and as Alvin Toffler forecast, faster and faster. Marilyn Monroe would not make it into SI, Playboy or Penthouse today. But with the recent trend of Kardashian rears, maybe the trend is changing and who knows.

  • Listener

    I do not agree with the previous comments. Gebroe is not suggesting we should restrict freedom of speech or expect people not to be attracted to beautiful bodies. I think she is just suggesting that, as we admire the beautiful forms (of all sizes) on the pages, we consider the symbolism and objectification on the pages as well. Our attraction and emotional responses can help us dismiss our analytical evaluations.

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