There’s been lots of buzz around the recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. For one thing, it was the 50th anniversary so the publication made a bit of a hoopla about it. Then the New York Times did a piece about it which garnered a ton of feedback.
Even my parents sent me the article.
One the key elements of the issue was the connection the magazine made between Mattel’s Barbie and the models themselves. Talk about a heated topic. Not only does half the population have issues with Barbie and what she stands for — unrealistic body shape being one of them — but then Barbie are put in the same camp as another group of women people take issue with — practically-naked models posing for drooling, teenage masses. Oy.
I had my personal issue with the magazine, but not for the reason you may think.
I’m sure you’d expect me to want to shield my daughter from the imagery of naked women with perfect bodies so as not to create unrealistic visions of femininity.
But that wasn’t my problem.
I actually wanted to shield my boys from it.
Unlike most parents my age, I’m pretty loose when it comes to my kids’ behaviors online. Some of the reason for this I can chalk up to mere laziness on my part. But mostly, I trust my kids. Yes, my older son loves rap videos but he hasn’t changed his behaviors as a result of them. He hasn’t adopted obscene language or gangsta attire, for instance. But the one thing I always tell the boys is that I really don’t like how women are depicted in these videos. And my sons listen and truly understand my concerns.
Now, I have to confess I, myself, spent time admiring the women of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. But I didn’t let my boys do the same. My issue? Not the nakedness per se. What pissed me off is that the one issue dominated by women has to be one that basically shows women naked. While I have nothing against swimsuit models — hey they’re making a few bucks like the rest of us — I do take issue with the notion that modeling swimsuits is a legitimate athletic activity. Why not do an issue on the many amazing female athletes out there? Come on! Did anyone see the women’s Olympic hockey game between Canada and U.S., for example? It was mesmerizing!!
And about Barbie — and my childhood love for them? Well, that’s a discussion for another day.