Confused Sports Illustrated Raises The Fascinating Question: Can One Be Ethically Unethical?

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.

32 thoughts on “Confused Sports Illustrated Raises The Fascinating Question: Can One Be Ethically Unethical?

  1. “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.”

    The swim suit issue brings joy to males of all ages, even those with busy unboring lives and increasing the happiness quotient (especiallythesedays) is a good thing although the circle will be incomplete until a trans woman is featured.

    • “the circle will be incomplete until a trans woman is featured.”


      07/20/2021: Leyna Bloom Will Be 1ST TRANS MODEL On SI Swimsuit Cover: NPR

      ” ‘I dedicate this cover to all ballroom femme queens past, present and future,’ Bloom wrote on Instagram. ‘Many girls like us don’t have the chance to live our dreams, or to live long at all. I hope my cover empowers those, who are struggling to be seen, feel valued.’ “

      • Okay, thanks Paul.
        Does SI draw the line at magazine covers or do they also support the so-called progressive position of guys who like to dress up as girls infiltrating women’s sports?
        Remember, when that hormone engorged 16 year old HS student says he identifies as a female; we only have his word. Not a bad gig if that is all it takes to get a free pass into the female locker room, bathroom, and showers, and a little extra attention to boot.

  2. I’ve wondered about the learned aspect of attraction since reading about the case of Mauritania, where force-feeding of girls to fatten them up before marriage is not uncommon and obesity is regarded as desirable. As difficult as it is to imagine that what one finds attractive is not entirely innate, maybe the “idiot philosophy”, as Peterson calls it, has at least some merit.

    • “obesity is regarded as desirable.”

      Friend of mine was in a taxicab in Africa a while back and the driver, upon discovering they were Americans, expressed an ardent desire to relocate to the good ol’ U.S. of A.

      My friend asked him some pointed who, what, when, where questions, which indicated the cabby’s knowledge about where he wanted to move was…um…incomplete, to say the least..

      When he got to the why, some light was shed: “Because even your poor people are fat.”

    • “where force-feeding of girls to fatten them up before marriage is not uncommon and obesity is regarded as desirable.”

      Might be splitting hairs here, but is there an important distinction between desirable and attractive? Certain aspects of beauty have changed over time as our obstacles have changed–being overweight and untouched by the sun used to signify wealth, where now being skinny and tan implies having enough money to spend time in leisure activities (ignoring the rapidly disappearing distance between the lifestyles of the well-off and the poor).

      However, these markers are just short hand for what is definitely constant in what all animals look for in a mate–health and capability. I don’t foresee a future in which obesity is ever regarded as a marker for anything desirable, but I do agree with Jordan Peterson that the left thinks humans are a product of society and are therefore malleable with the right people in charge.

      In other words, the left thinks they CAN teach people to find overweight attractive, and there are probably a minority of people who will respond in such a manner, at least at a superficial level, in order to signal their virtue.

      • Many aspects of the perception of beauty change over time and/or depending on regional thinking. In Jaoan women used to pluck out their real eyebrows and paint on eyebrows much higher than they occur naturally. Paleness was considred best, hence the white makeup (once lead-based) used by professional entertainers there. Also, a pearly white smile there was not considered attractive, and it was common to blacken one’s teeth. We can also talk about how the Mandarin Chinese used to bind little girls’ feet to make them unnaturally tiny. There is also one tribe Burmese tradition of using brass rings to extend women’s necks…with the unfortunate side effect of weakening the neck muscles so that removing the rings later is dangerous.

        However, we are westerners here, and westerners have gone for slender models probably since the Swinging 60s when Twiggy made thin the thing and the ideal to aspire to. Then again, they’re called MODELS. A model is an ideal or thing to want to be, or a thing to put on display, but not necessarily something achieveable.

        I think it’s common to blur the line between someone just to look at and someone to actually know and have a relationship with. I’ve known women who were model-level, and even one who is in fact a model, but only some were worth knowing beyond the façade, that’s just how it is. Just because they look good in a bikini does not make them good people. I’ve also known many women who were of ordinary appearance whose personalities and intellects blew some of these models away. BTW, being a model is apparently not easy – holding poses for extended periods of time can apparently result in a very sore body at the end of the day.

        Still, the point of being a model, I’m sorry, is first and foremost to be pleasing to the eye, nothing else. Pictures in a magazine like this are to entertain visually, nothing else, and very few western men find elderly women or obviously out-of-shape women vusually entertaining. If some magazine wants to do profiles of accomplished women who are not necessarily models, but shoot pictures that show them to best effect, then that’s something else, and some of those don’t always succeed, i.e. the attempt to make Stacey Abrams look like a Marvel superhero. However, trying to sell less than model level women PURELY on the appearance level isn’t going to work. Yet those who push these pictures say it can work, it should work, and shame on you straight, predominantly white, unwoke men who don’t WANT it to work. You aren’t woke, and you must be punished.

        It’s just another way of turning society upside down in the name of one ideology. Being a victim is better than being a hero, hating your country is better than loving it, violence is peaceful protest, and now unattractive is attractive. If you say otherwise, to the camps with you!

  3. Sure, the SI swimsuit issue has always been a screw up, but both Peterson and Whitlock are correct in their respective analyses. SI being idiotic does not obviate the perniciousness of what these covers are about.

    • “SI being idiotic does not obviate the perniciousness of what these covers are about.”

      That kind of language is rather confusing and furthermore intrudes upon the innocence of “horny 13-year-old boys.” I suppose if you had your way you would remove yet another one of the simple joys of life the deprived little rascals used to eagerly anticipate. So serious.

  4. Can we just take a moment to notice that the swimsuit in the photo on the left may be the most unflattering garment in the entire history of ugliness?

    • I’ll second that assessment. The model seems to be just within the parameters of a conventionally attractive human woman, but they could have used an outfit that worked with her contours rather than disrupting them with bizarrely placed cuts. (I’ve never understood the appeal of the super steep and narrow “V” cut that some leotard-style bathing suits (or, well, leotards) have at the bottom. It just looks awkward and uncomfortable.)

    • She’s going to slay herself. She’s not just not thin, she’s FAT. She reminds me of the “Gluttony” target in Se7en: An obese man… “a disgusting man who could barely stand up; a man who if you saw him on the street, you’d point him out to your friends so that they could join you in mocking him; a man, who if you saw him while you were eating, you wouldn’t be able to finish your meal. “

  5. I think most humans realize that there are multiple factors that go into attractiveness, but many are driven to despair because they don’t realize it.

    Attraction is partly innate instinct (which can vary by individual), partly socialization (so yes, you can shift the edges over time by influencing culture), and partly emotional connection, which is where having a “great personality” helps. That’s how charisma works: being fun and cheerful, or smart and witty, or confident and assertive, or kind and friendly can all factor in to how people see you. That’s why the same photograph can look flattering or unflattering depending on what the viewer thinks of the person in it.

    That’s also why I’m always perplexed when I see a fashion advertisement and the model looks bored and annoyed. (Never mind that they probably are bored and annoyed; they’re supposed to be able to look attractive, so the director should be asking for some facial expressions that evoke positive emotions.) The models in these photos seem to do alright with the facial expressions.

    Then of course there’s the presentation factor, which can draw on instinct, socialization, and/or emotional connection. It’s how you work with what you have by applying dynamic and contextual elements. I.e., how do you move? (Dynamic; see also Marilyn Monroe.) How do you dress? (Contextual.) How do you talk? (Both dynamic and contextual.) Background mindset (semantics supporting empathy) covers the contextual aspects, from fashion to makeup to accents. Rapport mindset (operation combined with empathy) covers the dynamic aspects, like movement and vocal inflections. There’s obviously some overlap, like body language and dialog. Just about any empathy-related mindset can be brought in to help, really.

    Personally, I don’t feel too strongly about the magazine’s decision. I can appreciate humans aesthetically even when they don’t change my pulse rate. I think any judgment claiming to be objective comes from one’s own innate instinct and socialization, in the absence of an emotional connection to random people on magazine covers. If the magazine runs on carnal attraction and they end up losing it, that’s their funeral. I do appreciate that they’re taking steps to broaden the parameters of the socialization aspect of attractiveness, though, even if they’re probably just doing it to avoid drawing woke ire.

  6. Notice how virtually all females these days can be seen wearing tight form fitting leggings that leave nothing to the imagination and yet the social message for years now has been for men to stop objectifying women. Personally I have no objection to form fitting leggings but they also defy the desire for women not to be stared at and viewed as sexual objects. This is mixed messaging.

    Where I live the style is more skintight jeans but like everywhere else the social etiquette is that men are not supposed to stare. Skin tight jeans are not very comfortable so why do women wear them while (most) men do not?

  7. Is this just an X-Chromosomal thing?

    How often do you see porcine males trotted…I mean wheeled, out ala Anna O’Brien in an effort to promote Body Positivity?

    I recall a chubwurst** model named Flabbio (sp?) (which a several-search-engine-hunt failed to unearth) but he was a merely a parody of Fabio.

    **my nickname for a 10 pound 8 ounce birthweight nephew; a mere two [2] ounces more than me!

  8. A tangential observation: Mrs. OB has always been adamant that women should dress in an age-appropriate manner and a body type appropriate manner. These “models” demonstrate what happens when you fail to do the foregoing: you look awful in the case of the obese woman and ridiculous in the case of the older woman. This is incompetent, verging on unethical.

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