Those are two of Sports Illustrated’s 2022 annual Swimsuit issue covers.
What’s going on here? It’s weird, whatever it is, and, of course, it has kicked off a culture war fight.
Conservative philosopher and pop guru Jordan Peterson tweeted regarding the flabby model on the left, “Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that.” This got him attacked online as a toxic warrior for white privilege and white supremacy. Then Peterson lashed back, stating his objection as this: “It’s a conscious progressive attempt to manipulate & retool the notion of beauty, reliant on the idiot philosophy that such preferences are learned & properly changed by those who know better.”
Conservative sports essayist Jason Whitlock begs to disagree. His take:
The left doesn’t want to retool the notion of beauty. They want to retool the notion of health. They want to reclassify obesity as healthy. Virtually everything the progressive left promotes is related to normalizing a culture of death, destruction, and despair. Abortion is about the right to kill babies in the womb. Liberalizing drug laws is about freeing people to self-medicate themselves into zombies. Defunding the police is about normalizing violent chaos within communities. Hostility toward religion is about removing hope, the lifeblood of civilization. Transgenderism is about the mutilation of God’s creation.
Come on, Jason, don’t hold back: what do you really think?
I think Occam’s Razor and Hanlon’s Razor apply in a rare double razor. This is stupid, not sinister, and the simplest explanation is the right one. The Swim Suit Issue was always a blatant betrayal of Sports Illustrated’s mission, turning the sports journalism magazine into Playboy Lite for a single issue to make its core audience of horny 13-year-old boys and bored middle-aged men happy. It never had anything to do with sports; until relatively recently, the models in varying states of undress weren’t even athletes. This was a basic integrity breach excused by a bunch of transparently dishonest rationalizations: “Girl-watching is a sport;” “Sport celebrates the human body.” Sure. The real justification was, “We can sell a lot of copies and get publicity, and our mission be damned.” The Economist could do the same thing which as much justification. As a subscriber, back when I was one, I thought it was an insult. I knew it was sexist. But it worked!
The thing is an anachronism now, and the ethical conduct would be to just stop it. Instead, Sports Illustrated has been trying to pander to the Left to get woke brownie points. They added male models in tight, package-displaying speedos. A wheelchair athlete; an amputee. I offered a poll referencing SI’s virtue-signalling in 2020; the current issue just continues a trend. This year it’s a fat model and a 74-year-old woman.
The entire concept of the issue is offensive pandering to male hormones rather than reporting on sports, but SI thinks it all fine as long as it panders to the Left at the same time. (As I noted in 2020, if the magazine really was serious, it would include some really ugly models.)
How cynical and degrading. To everyone.