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Volume 25 No. 28
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New SI Swimsuit Issue To Highlight Female Empowerment

The '18 SI Swimsuit Issue will "include more participation from athletes, written contributions from models, more donations and causes, and empowerment" in an effort to "make a magazine where models were as much participants as objects," according to Erin Vanderhoof of VANITY FAIR. In a first in its 54-year history, the Swimsuit Issue this year will also "feature a nude spread shot by a female photographer, Taylor Ballantyne, and an all-women crew" called “In Her Own Words.” Editor MJ Day said that she "sees connections between the #MeToo movement and her own work." Day said, “It’s about allowing women to exist in the world without being harassed or judged regardless of how they like to present themselves. That’s an underlying thread that exists throughout the Swimsuit Issue." Ballantyne last spring came to Day with the "idea of a nude shoot where models would choose words to write on their bodies, in an attempt to give the models a voice in a silent medium." Day decided it would be a "strong centerpiece of this issue." They chose a "variety of models with varying ages, body types, and levels of experience" (VANITYFAIR.com, 2/7).

MIXED MESSAGES: MCCLATCHY NEWS' Josh Magness wrote "not everyone was happy about the images," as many "questioned if they actually send a message of female empowerment" (MCCLATCHY NEWS, 2/8). The NEW YORKER's Alexandra Schwartz wrote the consequences of "inhabiting an objectified body are, in many ways, what #MeToo is all about, and there’s something spectacularly silly, not to mention tone-deaf," about SI fighting "fire with fire." Dark, simple words "painted on pale flesh don’t so much give the impression of women speaking their truths as of women who cannot speak at all" (NEWYORKER.com, 2/9). In DC, Cindy Boren wrote, "SI came up with an unfortunate compromise: More nudity! But nudity with a real purpose!" For giving models like Paulina Porizkova and others a platform, "albeit a naked one, SI is to be commended -- even if this halting step feels like a public service announcement dropped inside an issue that still too conveniently plays to SI’s advantage." It should have "sent a stronger message than 'Come for the female empowerment, stay for the hot babes'" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/12). TED.com Social Media Editor Ella Dawson tweeted, "I don't have enough patience left in my brain to coherently express everything wrong with Sports Illustrated framing its swimsuit issue as 'empowering' and in line with the goals of #MeToo."

JOB WELL DONE: In K.C., Jenee Osterheldt wrote, "I don’t understand the argument that because Sports Illustrated features women in bikinis that these women can’t support #MeToo." Osterheldt: "You can love your body, be in Sports Illustrated and be a feminist badass." Model Robyn Lawley has "words like 'Mother,' 'Human,' 'Creative' and 'Progressive' on her body" (K.C. STAR, 2/12).

ONE OF A KIND: SI this morning revealed Danielle Herrington as the cover model for the ’18 Swimsuit issue, with the magazine reverting to a more internally focused content and marketing strategy this year. After using various late-night talk shows in recent years for the Swimsuit cover reveal, SI announced the choice on its own website this morning in a video with former cover model Tyra Banks. The move pairs with the release this week of three Swimsuit-related specials on the new SI TV OTT video network, a move that similarly shifts away from recent partnerships to air specials on other TV networks. SI is also foregoing the out-of-town Swimsuit-release festivals. SI Group Editorial Dir Chris Stone said, “We really wanted to maintain ownership of the cover athlete reveal and Swimsuit this year.” The '18 Swimsuit issue, being released today, is 180 pages, up by six from last year. This year also marks a return to a single cover after three separate versions were produced last year. Athletes in this year’s issue include Genie Bouchard, Brenna Huckaby, Aly Raisman, Paige Spiranac and Sloane Stephens. Official sponsors for the Swimsuit issue are Kia and Stoli (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).