Nude photos slammed for #MeToo hypocrisy
SPORTS Illustrated has been criticised for linking its latest Swimsuit edition to the #MeToo movement that has become a global phenomenon since women in Hollywood began breaking their silence on cases of sexual harassment in the industry.
For the fist time in history the magazine features a nude shoot of women with empowering words written on their bodies. Models - like Paulina Porizkova and Sailor Brinkley Cook - could choose what words were written on them as a way of encouraging the spread of a positive message.
Sports Illustrated Editor MJ Day told Vanity Fair she believes the latest issue of the magazine - which will go on sale in the US next week - has strong links to the #MeToo movement.
"It's about allowing women to exist in the world without being harassed or judged regardless of how they like to present themselves," Day said.
"That's an underlying thread that exists throughout the Swimsuit issue. You have Harvard graduates, you have billion-dollar moguls, you have philanthropists, you have teachers, you have mothers - you have a full range of women represented in the alumnus of this magazine, and not one of them failed because they wore a bikini."
Vanity Fair also paraphrased Day as trying to "make a magazine where models were as much participants as objects".
But not everyone was so enamoured by Sports Illustrated's noble intentions.
Writing for women's website Jezebel, Megan Reynolds took aim at the Swimsuit edition for using the #MeToo movement as a marketing tool.
"Now that #MeToo has made the perilous journey from hashtag to movement, here's the obvious next step: this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue will loosely gesture at the movement by allowing the models to be 'participants' as well as 'objects,'" Reynolds wrote.
"That isn't the point of #MeToo, but it is savvy marketing - adopting the catchphrases of the latest wave of resistance and using them to fit the needs of an institution that moves copies based solely on what some may say is a celebratory look at the female form.
"Like empowerment feminism before it, it's only a matter of time before the #MeToo movement is packaged for consumption, slapped on tote bags and enamel pins and sold for profit."
Another women's website, Broadly, took a satirical look at Sports Illustrated pushing for female empowerment while being a publication that thrives on revealing photos.
"The sports magazine, which releases an annual empowering Swimsuit issue celebrating all women with svelte bodies and D-cups, has released a #MeToo-themed issue, where 'models were as much participants as objects,'" Sara David wrote.
"Because if women are finally going to end our own objectification, everyone has to watch us while we do it sensually. Why abolish wet T-shirt contests when you can take the power back on your own terms and enter the contest wearing a T-shirt that reads 'OWN IT'?
"Editor MJ Day, who put the #MeToo swimsuit issue together, told Vanity Fair that she 'sees connections between the #MeToo movement and her own work,' which makes sense since production studios like Harvey Weinstein's and boob magazines like Sports Illustrated probably have the same casting process.
"Don't be afraid all of this change, dear Sports Illustrated fan! If you, like the millions of women who turn to the nude magazine for empowerment, are worried that an issue as politicised as #MeToo might get in the way of enjoying the sports periodical's thoughtful writing and feminist messages, don't worry."
New York Times writer Amanda Hess was another who joined the chorus of dismay.
Day acknowledged that while attempting to change attitudes about women, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition was still "sexy", as per its reputation.
"These are sexy photos," Day told Vanity Fair. "At the end of the day, we're always going to be sexy, no matter what is happening. We're Sports Illustrated Swimsuit."
While many are cynical of the magazine's motives, golfer Paige Spiranac, who appears in the latest issue, is glad she was given the chance to embrace her body.
"This shoot felt it was for me, it was meant to be, it was right time, right place, right moment in my life with everything that I've gone through," Spiranac said in a video for SI Swimsuit.
"I finally took back what is mine. I took back my body, I took back my sexuality and, 'You guys want to see sexy? I'm going to do sexy and I'm going to do it my way.'
"It was really liberating to be myself and not feel I'm less than someone else or less of a person or that I haven't accomplished anything or that I'm a slut or my parents hate me or all of these things people call me everyday and really embrace this sexy side and be confident and love who I am and love the skin I'm in.
"It was a really powerful moment."
Brinkley Cook was also appreciative of having the opportunity to pose nude.
"It was really special to be a part of this and get to express myself in a very raw, uncensored way," she told Sports Illustrated.
"Having these words written all over your naked body and having that next level of exposure - I felt sexy obviously but I felt more emotional and it helped me accept myself."