So the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue just hit my mailbox today. And as usual, I'm not really sure what I think about it.
Featuring a near non-existant string bikini and several very tiny beautiful women of different ethnicities, this issue caters almost exclusively to male audiences. Probably a turn off for most feminist minded people out there. And yet women make up 90% of the coverage--a rarity in sports media. Something that should excite a whole bunch of us.
All it does is confuse me.
Now, I don't really have too much of a problem with the bathing suit clad women. If men are stupid enough to pay for pictures of women in bathing suits, then more power to the women who get paid to wear bathing suits.
Where I have the problem is when female athletes strip down. In this issue, racer Danica Patrick and tennis players Daniela Hantuchova and Tatiana Golovin (among others) all did some posing. And again, although I don't have a problem with the skin, per se, I do have a problem that it seems like female athletes get the most attention in the swimsuit issue (as opposed to regular issues with normal coverage of sports).
When do female athletes get to be plain old athletes? Or, if they want to venture out into other industries, why aren't rapping, movie making, grill cooking, broadcasting, etc (ala The Shack and George Foreman most prominently) where the lucrative money lies?
Why is the money always in the undressing?
Don't answer that, I know the answer.
What I *don't* know the answer to is how to create more space for female athletes to not only get more exposure as genuine respected athletes, but also how to create more choices for women in general. Because although this post centers sports, in all reality, baring skin remains one of the more consistent spaces where women can earn tons of money out in the non-sporting world as well.
How do we make more choices for women? How do we create more value in the work women produce?
On a side note, the model on the cover of the SI, Bar Refaeli, will also have her lovely mug plastered across a Southwest airplane. You can see a picture of the airplane here. My thoughts? She better have gotten a nice paycheck out of that crap.