Sorry, but Sports Illustrateds Swimwear Issue is still showcasing sex, not beauty | Marina Hyde

The American magazine is being disingenuous if it thinks the use of one burkini-clad Muslim model will shatter perceptions

As a huge fan of all attempts to complexify the mens magazine market, I couldnt be more moved by the latest gambit by Sports Illustrated.

Next week brings the release of SIs annual Swimsuit Issue, a once-a-year opportunity to explore the incredibly hot women youd like to have sex with wearing swimwear on beaches. If thats not clear, I mean that the women are wearing swimwear on beaches, and that youd like to have sex with them. Not that youd like to have sex with them while you were wearing swimwear on beaches. Youd need to take off any swimwear you happened to be wearing, obviously and frankly, I imagine youre not wildly fussed about the location. Sure, the beach if its a nice day but really anywhere is completely fine, and I know youd gladly fit in with any location that suited these ladies.

So yes, I trust we now have the premise of wanting to have sex with incredibly hot women in swimwear covered. If we havent, and there are still aspects of this highly nuanced phenomenon that I havent fully interrogated, then I can only apologise. Im very conscious of not wanting to underintellectualise an important strand of contemporary and, perhaps, historic culture.

But we really must press on now, because a magazine that has been running a yearly swimsuit issue since 1964 has just featured its first model wearing a hijab and burkini. Yes! Dont you dare tell me theres no such thing as progress. In the 2019 Swimwear Issue, increasingly high-profile Muslim model Halima Aden is pictured twice, both times reclining on a beach.

Well, its a straight would from me. As in, I would like to hear much more about this exciting development in the iconography of the magazine. Luckily, I can, because the editor of the issue, MJ Day, is on hand to explain what it is about this incredibly hot woman that led to Aden making the cut of the annual Sports Illustrated Women With Really Good Personalities Issue. When we met, she declares of Halima, I was instantaneously taken by her intelligence, enthusiasm and authenticity.

Im not sure MJ should have left out her headline-grabbing ability but perhaps well test SIs commitment to changing EVERYTHING by seeing if they repeat the stunt next year. Then again, will anything ever be the same again? According to Sports Illustrated, Halimas inclusion in their annual cavalcade of shaggables will shatter perceptions. Yes, that old chestnut a close relative of change the conversation.

Nothing in publishing convinces me that something is really an age-old marketing gimmick more instantly than the promise it will change the conversation, shatter perceptions or redefine empowerment. The primary hope, always, is that it will sell magazines. Nothing wrong with that, of course business is business. But the true question these supposedly radical acts mostly answer is one a lot of lucrative enterprises have been forced to ask themselves over the past 18 months or so. Namely, in the wake of the #MeToo movement and whatnot, how can we continue doing exactly what we have always done, and make the same amount of money from it, but look like we are part of some vague handwave toward change?

Indeed, Sports Illustrated seem to have gone all-in for this kind of absurdity. Thus the launch of this years Swimsuit Issue will be accompanied by some sort of twoday conference in Miami. Join us for our In Her Own Words panels, they entice, where models, industry experts, and SI Swimsuit editors will discuss beauty, diversity, female empowerment and more! Or read a book instead, and enjoy the Annual Sexy Magazine just as you always have.

Naturally, it is the fashion to deem all these stunts to be vital cultural moments. I was pleased to note the photoshoot was described by this newspaper as historic an adjective all too often applied to different types of events entirely. As for Halima Aden, she declared: Im so honoured that Sports Illustrated has taken the step to showcase the beauty that modestly dressed women possess. Mmm. Im sure Sports Illustrated said all the right things when they hired her. But it would be insulting Halimas intelligence to pretend that the photo that theyve styled her with her kaftan hitched right up to her backside so we can see plenty of tightly spandexed leg is anything particularly to do with their alleged commitment to modesty.

Whatever they might be saying this one time, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is not really about showcasing beauty, but about showcasing sex. Always has been, ever since the magazine invented it to fill a lull in the sporting calendar. Its for this reason that the 2004 cover star was topless, emphasising that its probably not about the swimwear if the absence thereof gets you on the front. Ditto with the magazines fondness for body painting bikinis on naked women and so on.

And thats fine. Its being forced to play along with all the disingenuity thats ridiculous. Or as the ever-striving magazine has it this year: At SI Swimsuit, we strive to continue to spread the message that whether you are wearing one-piece, a two-piece, or a burkini, you are the pilot of your own beauty. Thank you! Are you the same guys who own all the planes and control the airspace? Either way, I imagine the pilots couldnt generate the necessary thrust without you.

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