Mixed Feelings on the SI Swimsuit Cover (Mina)

My friend Mina wrote this and I felt like it raises some excellent questions. What are your thoughts on this?


Earlier this month, Sports Illustrated revealed their new “swimsuit issue cover”, which is, apparently, kind of a big deal. The models involved don’t know until the reveal that they’ve been chosen for the iconic cover, and based on reactions it must be a big career boost to be chosen…which means there are lots of models hoping they are the one on that page.

This year, SI did something different. They produced 3 covers with 3 different models: Hailey Clauson, Ronda Rousey, and Ashley Graham. The magazine was applauded for including diversity on the cover…One thin, blonde model (Clauson), one elite athlete (Rousey) and one “plus-size” brunette model (Graham).

In the days following the big reveal, SI has been lauded for celebrating diversity in beauty, especially with the inclusion of a plus sized model on the cover.

I had mixed feelings.

I love that diversity in beauty is being celebrated by a magazine issue with such influence. I think that’s fabulous. But, I still felt a little crummy about how it was done: Women in the equivalent of underwear being celebrated ONLY for how their photoshopped selves looked in the photo. I felt a little bit of victory along with a bit of defeat. I also felt a little manipulated…like this is SI’s way to just sell more issues…as fewer and fewer people are buying print copies of magazines anymore, printing 3 versions of such a celebrated annual issue is a way to get collectors to purchase THREE.

But now those mixed feelings include a little anger and frustration.

Cheryl Tiegs, a former SI cover model who is now nearly 70 years old, has spoken publicly against SI’s decision.

“I don’t like that we’re talking about full-figured women because it’s glamorizing them because your waist should be smaller than 35 (inches),” Tiegs told E! News at a pre-Oscar event on Wednesday night.

“That’s what Dr. Oz said, and I’m sticking to it. No, I don’t think it’s healthy. Her face is beautiful. Beautiful. But I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run.”

Is it really necessary for women to knock each other down like this? Tiegs could’ve simply practiced the golden rule. Or she could’ve avoided making assumptions that a plus size model is necessarily “unhealthy”. Or she could’ve faced the fact that many models, in order to keep getting hired for jobs, make choices that are extremely unhealthful (more so than having a waist size above 35 inches).

Sigh. I’d like to see women celebrate each other a bit more. I love that about this site. Healthy/fit come in many shapes, and there is more than one that is beautiful. And sometimes, for many reasons, health is elusive for some of us…and that doesn’t make us ugly or any less worthy of love, acceptance and support.