SI.Com Contributor: Swimsuit Issue Is “Creepy”

Not many new blogs break into my multiple-daily-visit bookmarks, but over the past few weeks, Jeff Pearlman’s blog has become a must-read. Pearlman is an acclaimed author and longtime contributor to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. He currently writes for SI.com.

Molly Sims

(SI.com Writer Pearlman: SI Swimsuit Models Have “Alien-ish” Bodies)

Last Thursday Pearlman posted his reax to the recently-published Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. And coming from a longtime SIer, his public view might surprise you. Here’s a taste:

So the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue arrived in the mail yesterday.

My primary reaction: Creepy.

More after the jump.

Before he launched into a critique of the swimsuit mag, Pearlman does remind us how much he loves working for Sports Illustrated. But he also is clearly not shy about making his objections felt about the once-yearly issue:

Now, I just find the issue strange. The average SI reader is probably a male in his mid-40s. The average SI swimsuit model is a girl … usually 19-, 20-, 21- or 22-years old. They almost always have breathtaking faces (and mirror-perfected come hither glances) … with the awkward bodies of 14-year-old boys. I once went on a Swimsuit shoot with Molly Sims, and was naively shocked to see her bathing suit stuffed with “cutlets” to make her relatively nonexistent breasts pop out. In person, Molly was cute and attractive, but not someone who would stop a guy in his tracks. Truth is, most of these girls (I use the term “girls” because they’re friggin’ half my age, and I’ve earned the right to be a grumpy old man) are more alien-ish than bombshell-ish.

Final thought on the topic: Picked up yesterday’s New York Post. The front cover had a picture of Bar Refaeli, the Swimsuit Issue cover girl, with a headline, AT LAST! A REAL STIMULUS. Now, let’s think about this. Literally, when a straight man sees an attractive woman, sometimes the blood will flush up his penis, causing what is commonly termed an erection. That’s the “Stimulus” in the Post headline. Thank God there was no real news going on …

I’d say 99% of SI readers feel exactly the same way. The other 1%? Women.

Yes, some of the models are hot, but most are glorified coat hangers that few people outside of old bats and gay men find attractive (see the people who run the fashion modeling industry).

There’s always been a disconnect between what guys want to see and the models SI presents them. (There are some notable exceptions, like Marisa Miller and Elle MacPherson.) Most males I know appreciate a generous female figure, but sadly, the majority of girls rolled out by SI are about as curvy as former New York Met Pete Harnisch’s first pitch of Spring Training.

In the post, Pearlman talked about seeing an SI model in person, and how unaffected he was. I had a similar experience. Two years ago I was in a L.A. restaurant and sat next to Brooklyn Decker at the bar for a couple hours. She looked to be about a 7. Attractive, but certainly not mind-blowing. She wouldn’t get a second glance at a hot Hollywood club.

Since the issue first came out, if you were a media member and you criticized the selection of girls in the swimsuit issue, you were labeled an out-of-touch hater. So it’s nice to see an SI employee come clean and tell the truth.

Especially when it comes to SI’s crass sexualization of the models when marketing the issue.

How does SI get away with it? When it couches that content against a venerable, iconic mainstream brand, clearly it can do whatever its wants - and readers and advertisers will look the other way.