Step one to not being viewed as a sex object: Don’t pose nude for the camera.
Or, if you’re the editor of the upcoming Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, have female models turn their bodies into #MeToo canvases as they pose naked for men whose sole purpose for buying the issue is to stare at beautiful, naked, women.
That’s the questionable logic behind next week’s 2018 Swimsuit Issue, the first “of the #MeToo Era” in which “models were as much participants as objects,” Vanity Fair reported.
An SI.com preview of the issue shows Swedish model Paulina Porizkova lying down naked, face up, with the word “TRUTH” painted on her ribcage; Australian model Robyn Lawley standing naked and extending her left arm, which is emblazoned with the word “FEMINIST”; and Sailor Brinkley Cook, the daughter of model Christie Brinkley, lying naked on her side and staring at the camera, with the word “PROGRESS” written across her back.
Editor MJ Day, and her all-female team, wrote the SI Swimsuit staff, “Handed over the control to the women who are our brand” and “encouraged them to become a canvas and share their truth.”
Bold move for a brand whose audience is male, and whose success (the Swimsuit Issue has raked in $1 billion in its lifetime and accounts for 10% of Sports Illustrated’s annual revenue) is an exception to the magazine’s decline.
The upcoming issue, wrote Vanity Fair’s Erin Vanderhoof about Swimsuit Issue editor MJ Day, “Will be the culmination of a shift in her thinking that’s happened over her time at Sports Illustrated, that the images could be a place where different standards of beauty could be celebrated.”
But in the preview of the issue, every photo is of a thin, stunning, naked, model. And Day herself says, “These are sexy photos. … At the end of the day, we’re always going to be sexy, no matter what is happening.”
But it is a contradiction in terms to say that the Swimsuit Issue’s objectively sexy images celebrate subjective beauty.
Unless you speak feminist.
It’s also a have-their-cake-and-eat-it-too moment for feminism.
Sports Illustrated is trying to capitalize on the #MeToo movement — which in part says it’s wrong for men to view women as sex objects
But this issue’s business model capitalizes off of men’s sexual natures. That nature will only motivate men to buy the Swimsuit Issue if it features beautiful, naked, women, posing as objects of sex.
As Vanderhoof wrote, “Last year’s issue portended a change when it closed with an image of a model in a tank top that read, “A WOMAN DOESN’T HAVE TO BE MODEST TO BE RESPECTED.”
This is confused.
Modesty, in large part, serves to highlight the essence of a person by intentionally playing down the superficial.
But modern feminism is itself confused.
That’s why the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue will wax heroic for drawing #MeToo-appropriate art on canvases that are themselves portrayed as sex objects.