From the archives: A half-century of SI swimsuits

While I’m taking a summer break from the blog, I’m reposting and updating selected links from the archive.

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The usual furor over the Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue didn’t materialize much this winter. That was surprising, given the 50th anniversary of the highly popular edition, and the  cover shot featuring topless (with backs turned toward the cameras) models Chrissy Teigen, Lily Aldridge, and Nina Agdal.

And the website leaves little to the imagination as well.

SI Swimsuits at 50Where was the feminist outrage? Or, as I wrote in February of last year, the harrumphing of middle-aged male sportswriters who wonder why this continues well after the passage of Title IX? C’mon fellas, lighten up:

“To suggest that women’s continued progress in sports must necessitate the eradication of supposedly sexist portrayals of women in general is as unlikely as it is absurd.

“There’s a troubling notion at work here that women’s political, educational and legal gains, including Title IX and sports, are being undermined by photos of supermodels in fishnet bikini tops.

“Those who follow this line of thought are serving up a set of false choices.”

And they disrespect the choices of women who choose to pose. Some are even athletes. One of them, Alex Morgan of the U.S. women’s soccer team, was even scolded by a male sportswriter for doing the same a few years ago.

Now, there’s hardly a whimper — this Chicago dad is an exception — and Morgan was joined by former Notre Dame and current WNBA hoopster Skylar Diggins.

Who’s being paternal now?

The younger generation of female athlete isn’t as hung up on gender and sexuality as those who can’t get beyond the word “objectification.”

The critics have a new target, it seems: Barbie in a swimsuit for SI. And she’s “unapologetic” about it.

How’s that for aggressive marketing?

Given the dollhouse that contemporary American feminism has constructed around itself, it’s a fitting venue for another futile fight.

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