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Stop Putting Non-Models On Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Covers

Someone needs to tell the women dominating marketing and editorial offices, that the only right reader is the one who buys your magazine.


Like the companies that have fallen before it (Bud Light, Target, etc.) Sports Illustrated has, yet again, failed to read the room. The magazine once revered by manly men everywhere placed media personality Gayle King on one of its covers to celebrate 60 years of its iconic Swimsuit Issue. Granted, that’s a step up from putting a man on the cover, but still, it misses the mark considerably.

In no way am I criticizing Oprah’s sidekick because of her age, nor do I minimize her accomplishments even though I might find her talent questionable. What I find contemptible are the lies the leftist culture insists on shoving down our throats.

“Sexy isn’t an age, sexy isn’t a size,” plus-size model Hunter McGrady pronounced in her interview about the new SI cover with CBS Morning co-hosts, including King. Yes, that’s exactly what sexy is. Any woman can feel sexy, but the idea that other people, man or woman, will find an average-looking 70-year-old or an overweight woman — or man for that matter — objectively sexy is a lie. Just like a breastfeeding man is a lie or insisting obesity is healthy is a lie. Welcome to 2024 where feelings take priority over everything, even the truth.

Not every woman is objectively beautiful, and that’s OK. The original feminist movement proved that women have much more to offer than just our looks. All women should be encouraged to embrace and cultivate their God-given talents whether that proves to be their intelligence, their artistic ability, or their capacity to care for and nurture a family. Pretending every woman is a supermodel does no one, particularly Sports Illustrated, a brand built to celebrate excellence, any favors. The magazine, once the premier voice in sports, laid off a majority of its employees at the beginning of the year after Authentic Brands pulled the license from Arena, the publisher.

SI admits to not caring about a loss in readership. In an interview, Meg Oliver of “CBS Mornings” asks the editor-in-chief of the Swimsuit Issue, MJ Day, if SI lost readers as the swimsuit edition “evolved” — a euphemism for ending the tradition of putting beautiful, fit women on the cover. McGrady replied, “Definitely. But we didn’t care. We thought that the right reader would come along with us and the wrong ones, we didn’t want.”  

Someone needs to tell the women dominating marketing and editorial offices that the only right reader is the one who buys your magazine. If you don’t have customers or, in SI’s case, red-blooded heterosexual males, you don’t have a product to sell. The women insisting on injecting woke values into every commercial and every cover are destroying brands, along with profit, all in the name of inclusion.

Bud Light knew it wasn’t a fine Merlot and didn’t pretend to be anything other than the ultimate beer for the blue-collar, middle-class working man. That is until some white leftist woman in a glass office thought the brand needed to “evolve” and be less frat boy and more inclusive. But Bud Light isn’t for Alissa Heinerscheid, and neither is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. It’s for men, and when women like Heinerscheid and Oliver insist the brands they represent include all, they exclude their key demographic and reveal their contempt for the very people who pay their salaries.

Forced inclusion is destroying the virtues of meritocracy and the hierarchy of standards. While King may be an accomplished host, there is nothing particularly aspirational about her when it comes to her athletic achievements or appearance. In fact, she looks downright awkward in almost every photo I’ve seen that’s been publicized for the once-popular SI issue. No one pays money to watch pee-wee football or sing karaoke. They pay money for Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift.

Kate Upton told the “CBS Mornings” crew, “You can be everything. You can be smart, you can be beautiful, you can be confident, like … everybody … like … ” to a chorus of “yes, yes, mmmm” from co-hosts King, Tony Dokoupil, and Nate Burleson. Proving why Upton is a supermodel and not a nuclear physicist and simultaneously promoting a lie.

No one, man or woman, can be everything. I learned this lesson early on when I had to order special toe shoes to fit my large feet at just 16 years old. I loved to dance but knew I was never going to be a prima ballerina no matter how many lessons I took. It didn’t stop me from putting posters of Natalia Makarova and Gelsey Kirkland on my wall to stay motivated. Nor did it prevent me from continuing to dance and eventually finding my own unique niche to develop my talents. 

Every woman has a gift to offer this world. While many of us will write books, raise children, litigate cases, or care for the sick, few of us were meant to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. And that’s how it should be.

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