Today’s series of WhatsApp messages from my traveling husband started with: I have no idea why I just bought the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for my wife. But bought I did, as requested.
You might ask: Why, exactly, is a 50-year-old modestly dressed mom requesting only this one thing on her husband’s return from the States?
I’m more than happy to explain, particularly, as I’ve recently seen a number of infuriatingly sarcastic and obnoxious posts on social media about this recent issue of Sports Illustrated.
First, let’s get one thing straight. The swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated has never, ever, been about endurance, athleticism and achievement. It started as a way to fill space during the slower winter months and to gain readership. In general, the publication has received criticism through the years for many reasons. Purists argue that it’s a sports magazine and that it should stick to reporting on sports. Others believe that the publication objectifies women and shows them as something only for male consumption.
I happen to agree with both opinions and find the entire swimsuit issue to be ridiculous. But, with that said, if we are going to have this issue, and we’re going to show female models at their best, then let’s show ALL types of models.
Very few people, other than my husband, know that I’m a fangirl for large size models. I’ve been following Ashley Graham for years; I’m a big Insta-fan of Hunter McGrady and I’m now going to be watching out for Yumi Nu.
I love, absolutely love, how comfortable these larger women are in their bodies.
And yes, we can go on for ages about health and BMI and how being overweight isn’t healthy. Well, being anorexically thin isn’t either; and neither is being a teenager or young adult woman yo-yo dieting to attempt to achieve the completely unattainable size and shape of our typical model in 2022.
I applaud these curvy, gorgeous models who are giving women today a different message; it’s a message of inclusion, self-acceptance and diversity. It’s a message that tells them that every little bump and roll that they see on their own bodies – that every little crease and crevice – isn’t a reason for panic, starvation or self-battery; but a reason for acceptance and joy.
Furthermore, to denigrate the models selected for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is to assume that everyone has the same beauty standard. To those who play this card, I say it’s time to realize your standard isn’t the only one guiding all people. To many, curves are appealing and a bit of extra weight is luscious. So are different shades of color, sizes and looks. One person’s beauty standard is not necessarily the next one’s. So, to call Sports Illustrated’s decisions ‘woke’ is to assume that there is only one beauty standard that matters. And that’s simply not true.
With the rise of social media, and particularly Instagram, young women today are setting themselves up for a dangerous and desperate game of never-ending comparisons. Eating disorders, warped self-perceptions and depression have reached a pitch never before witnessed in Western society.
It is for these reasons that I follow people like Katie Sturino and her #SuperSizeTheLook campaign and that I’ve requested a copy of the current Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
If we aren’t going to eradicate the objectification of women and the field of modeling (and we aren’t) then we damn well can change the narrative and the definition of beauty – and welcome people of all sizes, colors and nationalities to the conversation.
Bring it on Sports Illustrated. I can’t wait to get my copy at the end of the week.