February 22, 2007

The Swimsuit Issue

What if along with your regular 11 issues of Martha Stewart Living, once a year the magazine sent you "The Mailman Issue" filled with pictures of dashing, shirtless postal workers ducking secretively into suburban homes? Then women would finally be equal to men, that's what.

Please tell me that you've already purchased your copy of the 2007 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. It's your once chance a year to get away with being a slimy ogler and not have anyone call the cops on you. Filled with famous women "dressed" in g-strings and bikini tops writhing in the sand, this issue is a marketing dream come true. So what if it says "Sports Illustrated" on the top. This issue promises to have nothing at all to do with sports. In fact, the 2007 edition's cover has teasers such as, "Body Painting that Rocks," "The Dreamgirl as You've Never Seen Her," and "Look Who's in Elvis' Bed." Let's save the suspicious circumference of Barry Bonds' head for March, the February issue is all about skin.

I've been pretty riled up about this yearly phenomena. So you can imagine my relief when I read that in fact, this issue was for women as well! Susan Breslow Sardone wrote an article assuring women that the Swimsuit Issue is a handy tool for us gals to see what we should be wearing. I felt empowered by reading that the Swimsuit Issue is "a shopping guide for women, cluing them in to the latest swim suits, bathing suits, bikinis, and thongs for the beach." How silly of me! And here I thought this was just a marketing gimmick to get more men subscribing to the magazine. I'm going to get my subscription tomorrow and totally out-writhe Beyonce on the beach this summer.

But wait, I vaugly remember my Mom telling me that looks aren't everything...

Not to worry. The Managing Editor of the magazine, Terry McDonell, talked about the rigid selection process for the sandy sirens. Beauty is only one of many factors determining a woman's inclusion in the issue. "The success of the SI Swimsuit Issue has always been in the combination of beauty, athleticism and personality of the models we choose," he said. From this deadly combination, we can rest assured that every model in this issue not only has a perfect body, but can also dunk on Michael Jordan and tame wild mustangs with a single, limpid glance. How quickly I jumped to conclusions. I apologize, men. McDonell makes it perfectly clear that it's whats "beneath" the swimsuit that really matters.

Sports Illustrated is projected to reach about 64 million adults. However, the swimsuit edition typically sells twice as much as any other SI issue, is sold in more than 15 countries and printed in a dozen languages. It is the most purchased issue of any magazine issue every year. It is typically released on Valentine's Day to add that "special something" to the holiday. The 2000 edition was even accompanied by 3-D goggles to view certain photos. However this complex development overwhelmed most of the amoeba-brained readers and the idea was scrapped in future issues.

The 2007 issue is filled with "music themed" shots. Not only does singer Beyonce grace the cover, but other fleshy gals are photographed with famous musicians such as Aerosmith, Kenny Chesney and Panic! At the Disco. Accordingly, this is the first year you can purchase an accompanying CD to listen to while browsing your magazine. For only $20 you can not only see, but experience through music the true message of the Swimsuit Issue. And if that's not enough to get your sports fix, you can subscribe to have a SI Swimsuit Model as your cell phone wallpaper with the wallpaper updating each month to showcase another girl. Total immersion can be yours under the guise of sports.

The Swimsuit Issue has been printing since 1964 - right when we women were supposedly going through a revolution to put an end to sexism. The early models must have thought this was a way to free themselves and show how empowered they were. Some charismatic editor probably gave them the "take off your clothes and we'll respect you" line. Forty years later we are still falling for it. Some revolution. Now where's my issue?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nobody is stopping you from making your mailman issue...cant you find something useful to blog about?

Sarah said...

Well, my mailman seemed pretty bugged when I asked him to pose for my camera. Alas, I'm totally useless.

Suzie Petunia said...

Useful? Anonymous, how did you find a moment to pull yourself away from you p*orn to make an asinine comment on this blog? Oh, I know. I bet "anonymous" googled "The Swimsuit Issue" (aka socially acceptable p*rn)and found your blog.

glittersmama said...

No kidding. If you don't like the blog, go away and take your comments with you.

I agree. I wonder who decided that mostly naked girls fell under the "Sports" heading.

Toni said...

Thanks for a few morning cackles!

To Anon- it's your opinion that this isn't useful- I found it VERY useful info!

chronicler said...

Mailmen??!!??? Nah, Sarah if we're going to ogle anyone it has to be UPS men!

Fashion info? Well, according to this years' issue we should be wearing drums and nothing else. hmmmmmm.

AzĂșcar said...

No matter how you gussy it up, the SI swimsuit issue is still just about the objectification of the female form. I, too, hate how 'acceptable' it has become. It makes me angry that women participate, edit, encourage, and tolerate this behavior.

Rachel said...

Here! Here! to everything you said!

patrick said...

Sports Illustrated has a SWIMSUIT ISSUE?!?!

kaff said...

Hello, the fireman calendar! Its way hotter than any SI issue and you can play your own music :)

Marie said...

This soft porn phenom (Swimsuit Issue, Victoria's Secret catalogs) is way more disturbing to me than your Playboy or Penthouse, because when you raise the alarm you get your average "nice" guys rolling their eyes at you, telling you to stop being so fuddy, and that you're just jealous. It's sick stuff -- especially the girls in VS who are chosen for their 14-year-old looks. Kiddie porn without the stigma! Really frightening.

My brother's the head of the men's group (elders' quorum) in his congregation and the bishop of the congregation recently confided to him that he knows that at least one third of the men in the congregation have a porn problem, and there are probably many others that he doesn't know of. How do "nice" church-going fellas get sucked in? Your blog says it all.

Bex said...

I never knew I was supposed to look to SI for fashion advice. Thank you Sarah for opening my eyes. And to think that I used to look at this issue of the magazine with disgust...

The Wiz said...

Ah...SWIMWEAR!!! THAT'S the reason for the swimsuit issue - I'm so glad that got cleared up. So I can go n*aked on beaches and just say that it's because of SI when I get arrested for indecent exposure. Now, I haven't seen the issue for a good number of years, but I don't remember a number to call to order any of the suits.....maybe they've changed that. Does that tho*ng come in a large?

Th. said...

.

You didn't mention the DVD.

Karen said...

Fabulous post Sarah, beautifuuly written and perfectly true, as always.

s'mee said...

Just FYI mom, young people can ogle whomever they want during lunch hour at the local high school library, which carry and archive SI as a subscription. This is very convenient for those of us who have decided not to have it in our homes. Another perk to public school, kids can fantasize in public and then carry it in their head as they go to class and sit next to their peers.

Why do we have a sex obsessed society? Why are 63% of teens sexually active? hmmm don't have a clue.

citymama1 said...

Bravo! Loved the post.

tracy m said...

Firemen! Firemen! Firemen!

Oh yeah, and I'm totally going to rock the I-pod "swimsuit" on the title page... yeah.

We get SI, and I was flipping throuh this issue on the kitchen counter when Beanie, age 3, came in. His words:

"Mama! That lady is naked! Where's her clothes, mama? She needs clothes on because her boobies are private."

That's my boy- and with that the SI went in the trash.

Kelly said...

Gee. I'm so glad to FINALLY have a magazine that can "tell" me what I'm supposed to be wearing at the beach. Now if I could just grow a few inches, lose about 20 or so pounds, airbrush away my stretch marks, and somehow get rid of my cellulite, I will be good to GO!
What a LAME way of trying to excuse this horrific objectification and photoshop-ification of women.
Great post. I'm new here.... will be back.
Oh... and poor anonymous. Coming here because you KNOW they googled "SI Swimsuits". He/she was SO ticked that there were no pictures.

Day said...

I just found this hilarious blog--thanks for the fun!
I wonder, why is the SI issue socially acceptable? I just read an article by the American Psychological Association about how harmful it is for girls and women to be portrayed by the media in a sexual manner:

http://www.apa.org/
pi/wpo/sexualization.html

Gail said...

Thank you for writing this. It's beyond me why blatant sexism is still socially acceptable. It's right up there with Hooters. It really upsets me that women buy into this kind of behavior. It doesn't have anything to do with jealousy, it's self respect.