Sports Illustrated Deserves a Little Credit For Showing Athletic Is Sexy

What Women Really Think
Feb. 11 2011 8:48 AM

Sports Illustrated Deserves a Little Credit For Showing Athletic Is Sexy


As Sports Illustrated prepares to release their 2011 swimsuit issue, let us take a moment to lightly praise the sports magazine for promoting the notion that uber-athletic female bodies are just as sexy as the frames of lanky Brazilian models like this year's cover hopeful Cintia Dicker . Whether or not you approve of the vaunted swimsuit issue's "minivan cheesecake" aesthetic (as it was cleverly named by Slate 's Bryan Curtis ), one must concede that the devoted ooglers of SI will find a greater range of body types than most mainstream men's or women's magazines.


Save the occasional "shape" issue from Vogue with its token appearance from someone over 115 pounds, Sports Illustrated 's swimsuit issue is one of the few places you will see the delightfully muscular form of Olympic softball player Jennie Finch alongside the awesomely Amazonian proportions of Serena Williams . As Hanna Rosin argued last year in an article about bikini-clad Lindsey Vonn , the skier is no wispy little thing-her super strong legs "look like they could easily shove a truck down a hill." When in the fashion industry, anyone above a size 8 is in the plus size division, it's good to see a bit of diversity on display.

I'm not saying that the swimsuit issue is some font of total body inclusiveness-I'd be surprised to see a female shot putter or weight lifter, or someone who truly challenged the viewer's idea of female beauty. But when even the so-called women's fitness magazines are promoting a "neurotic thinness," as this Jezebel post astutely points out , seeing athletic bodies promoted by such a widely-read publication is heartening.

Update, Feb. 14, 2011: This year's swimsuit issue cover girl has been announced, and it is Russian model Irina Shayk . It's worth noting that there are three athletes featured in this year's magazine : pro surfer Bruna Schmitz, javelin thrower Leryn Franco, and Olympic volleyball player Kim Glass.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

U.S. Begins Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059


Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How in the World Did Turkey Just Get 46 Hostages Back From ISIS?

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.