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SI cover too provocotive? I don’t think so – updated with swimsuit edition

UPDATE: The annual SI swimsuit edition is out and features four hot Olympians, including Lindsey Vonn.


So far I haven’t seen any critics emerge on the athletes inclusion in the magazine. But there is an interesting update from the blogger who originally criticized the Vonn Olympic cover.


This blog post about the new Sports Illustrated cover featuring skier Lindsey Vonn is getting some attention because it claims the pose objectifies women.


I don’t get it. It’s not as if SI asked Vonn – who could become a major story during the Olympics that start next Friday — to pose in a bikini on a beach, something that would take her out of her sport completely.

When my husband shoved the SI cover at me last night, asking if I thought it objectified women, I said, “No. She’s a skier featured in a ski pose and is fully clothed in ski attire. Why are you asking?” He then pointed me to these blog posts.

I do get why women criticize SI: The magazine rarely features female athletes on the cover. But in this case, I think we should celebrate that Vonn was chosen as the face of the Olympics BECAUSE she is SO GOOD at her sport. I would rather see her in a posed shot, where I can see her face, than in an action shot where I have no sense of the individual behind the ski goggles.

So what do you think Beehivers? Is this cover too provocative and/or unfair to female athletes?

Responses to "SI cover too provocotive? I don’t think so – updated with swimsuit edition"

ed says:

i like sports. i like sociology. i’m always intrigued when the two intersect in the public view. i need to read the linked blog, but i don’t see it as scandalous or objectifying. like you said, she’s in her ski gear (sans googles & helmet). she’s in a ski pose and although it means her derriere is sticking out, it’s part of the sport.

what, should she be scowling in a parka instead of smiling in her ski suit?

BJ says:

Heck no, it’s not provocative at all. If she were posed like she was using her ski pole as a stripper pole & her suit was unzipped to expose cleavage, that would be provocative. Do the people who are criticizing actually watch skiing? & Congrats to SI for recognizing Lindsay Vonn’s achievements in her sport as a cover shot.

wet towel says:

…anything provocative about that pose is waaaaay diminished by realization of those pointy ended doodads stickin out back there…

no… this is when nature says ‘stay away.’

Kim Burly says:

How else is she supposed to ski? If she were wearing pasties and a thong, yes. Otherwise leave it alone, bloggas.

mdub420 says:

i don’t understand why there’s a problem showing a woman ski downhill on the cover of a sports magazine.

Sara M. says:

I’m sorry ~ did the Wassabi complainers write to SI about this “provocative” pose??? Wouldn’t surprise me.

Johanna says:

I think it is a great portrait!
I think the objection is the fact she is smiling, no goggles, etc.
The tilt of the image and the tight suit might add to the drama…I think people have too much time on their hands. Speaking of which, I used the image to practice some Photoshop, do you think straightening the image takes away the “sexiness”???

Kathy Mahan says:

You’re probably right about the tilt making some of the critics feel it’s too sexy. Taking the tilt out does make the picture less engaging. But, she doesn’t ski down a flat surface, so the tilt seems in the proper context of the Sport to me.

Candice says:

I don’t see anything wrong with it at all. If she had her butt sticking out provocatively, maybe. It’s hypersensitivity like this that gives feminism a bad name.

Conlan says:

I don’t think it’s inappropriate, but I’d take issue with this: “we should celebrate that Vonn was chosen as the face of the Olympics BECAUSE she is SO GOOD at her sport.” I really doubt that she’d be featured so prominently if she weren’t so attractive (just as missing women rarely receive national news coverage if they aren’t white and good-looking). In terms of empowering women and so forth, I’d call it a wash.

Talullah says:

Have the naysayers EVER watched downhill skiing? Have they EVER watched a SUPER G? Have they EVER noticed that the tighter the tuck position the faster the run? Do they EVEN know what the sport is about? That tuck position is crucial. OMG!!! For the life of me I cannot understand what the ruckus is about. I have three daughters and a granddaughter. I am in no way offended by the SI cover. What I AM is proud to see a woman ON the cover of SI who isn’t in a swimsuit (I don’t have a problem with those covers, either). It’s fantastic that Lindsey is being recognized for her achievements and her possible accomplishments at the Winter Olympics. If the cover was of a male skier in the same position there wouldn’t be anything to talk about. You know what? The ONLY thing we should be talking about is how much we hope she WINS!!!

Marji says:

I am 56 and was on the first wave of feminism — way back when women didn’t even have names, they were just Mrs. Bob,

I agree with Candice. All I ask is that I be judged on my merits and intelligence, not whether I stand or sit to get rid of excess fluid.

It’s a downhill skier in a downhill skiing position. There’s nothing provocative about that.

Now, some of those lifts in pairs figure skating? THOSE are provocative!

Kathy Mahan says:

I think it’s fact that she has been tearing up the slopes and winning. No matter how beautiful, I doubt SI would make her the cover face for the Olympics is she wasn’t likely to be THE story of this year’s Games because she is favored to WIN. I get your point. But, SI could have featured any of the hundreds of athletes the U.S. is sending — and probably found several women who are pretty — and they chose her. I think it has to do more with what she’s doing on the world stage of the slopes than how good she looks in the outfit.

Conlan says:

I don’t mean to diminish her talent at all. No doubt she’s a great skier. I’m just skeptical of SI, and the media in general, when it comes to stuff like this.

Kathy Mahan says:

So I guess if a women is talented, and happens to be pretty, we should ignore her because any attention MUST be because of her looks? Are you skeptical when a good-looking guy is on the cover — say Tom Brady as the MVP of football, who many women say is hot, or Lance Armstrong, who has been named SI’s athlete of the year, and many women think is good looking? In fact, these guys get lots of endorsements for their looks AND talent, yet no one questions why they are getting attention.

BJ says:

I agree. If Bode Miller were doing the exact same pose, would there be any controversy? Highly unlikely.

Conlan says:

I didn’t say she should be ignored, nor that any attention was solely based on appearance. To answer your question, when men are on the cover of a magazine cover targeted to a primarily male audience, it doesn’t raise as many questions. But yes, I have the same concerns about an attractive male persona like those you mentioned when they are featured on the covers of magazines whose audiences are primarily women.

Conlan says:

Also, regarding endorsements, I take for granted that appearance is a factor for all, male and female. Unattractive people don’t sell as well.

Kathy Mahan says:

Well, there is Michael Phelps (other than his great abs, not too attractive). But I see your point. My point is simply this: Can you think of a more deserving athlete to represent the Olympic team this year? I think she would have been chosen even if less attractive.

Conlan says:

I don’t really follow the Olympics, so no, I can’t think of anyone.

pk says:

cheap shot…..hasn’t enough crap been heaped upon those people….give it up!

Jason says:

The lead image with the article is, in my opinion, a better photo. I don’t have anything against this one, but the other one is a great action shot and you can actually see snow kicking up from her skiis as she maneuvers around a slalom pole, determination on her face. I just think given the title says “America’s Best Woman Skier Ever” the image of her actually skiing would’ve been a better fit, then this image for the profile in the mag. I don’t know if it would work with SI’s cover design, though.

Snake Plissken says:

You are kidding, right? Why would anyone be offended by this photo?

Marty says:

Lindsey is the face of the American Olympic team. Period. She’s the team’s great medal hope in one of the premier Oly sports. There are no women figure skaters in a position to win; she’s really it when it comes to the U.S. team. SI is still the premier sports magazine, however you feel about the swimsuit issue. This has nothing to do with that. She’s skiing in a classic tuck position. Git yer minds out the gutter, men!

jane quebe says:

So it’s FEMALE bloggers that are saying this is too suggestive? Come on girlfriends, are we are own worst enemies? So… she’s an Olympic athlete meaning she is in the top 1% in the world in her sport AND she happens to be beautiful, too. Why can’t we just be happy for her and her accomplishments?

JB says:

No matter how many people don’t like it, attractive people _attract_. They sell things, they’re all over the media, and no amount of complaining will remove them or their attractiveness. Given that most attractive people have put in the effort to get and stay that way, it’s not like we’re celebrating a completely random gene trait. It’s just one of the dozens of traits in people that we should be celebrating – as this cover points out, attractiveness, skill, determination, strength, and “all-american”-ness. Objectification is when only one trait is focused on, something I don’t see here at all.

It should be celebrated when SI prints something as unobjectifying as this; a backlash would make them reconsider printing any women at all, since they’re “obviously” impossible to please. Asking them to pretend there is no external being, only the personality inside – on a cover photo no less – is lunacy.

Happy says:

The photo seemed ok to me. When I shook my head …I did not hear any cowbells.

Marty says:

Apparently she is in the swimsuit issue – but not on the cover. So there you go.

Marty says:

I’ve been rethinking my original reaction, which was “c’mon, that’s crazy talk.” This column from the L.A. Times’ Bill Plaschke raises really good points.

With Lindsey Vonn, is it the shin or the skin?,0,1710967.column

Mike Oz says:

I’m going to go ahead and say that probably wouldn’t have put her in the swimsuit issue if she wasn’t hot.

I know that’s a rash opinion on my part. But I’m sticking to it.

Kathy Mahan says:

I guess I look at it as it doesn’t have to be either or. Lots of male athletes bare skin in magazines. Some of them even have endorsement that put them in their underwear (David Beckham; Michael Jordan). It doesn’t seem their athletic talent — or the covers they land — is questioned as much. They make make business decisions and use their looks. So does Vonn.

I still think that Vonn was chosen for the Olympic cover because she was winning so many races leading up to the Olympics and because she said she was going for 5 medals in Vancouver. Yes, she is beautiful and that helps. But I can’t think of another story that is more compelling than this one. That’s not to say that there isn’t an issue with the way women’s sports are depicted in magazines or covered. I just think this is the wrong example.