The other night I walked into the office to kiss Hubs goodnight and found him online, watching a slideshow montage of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot. Apparently they were interviewing the model – Arel (?) something or other – about her experience at the photo shoot on an incredibly beautiful tropical beach. (I think it might have been an island somewhere, but I wasn’t really paying attention.)
With a less than stellar plot and a LOT of bare flesh, the part of the video I saw was pretty close to soft porn. At one point the model is standing there in nothing but a bikini bottom, covering her boobage by holding her arms vertically in front of her while a parakeet pooped on her shoulder. Okay, I don’t know that the parakeet pooped on her shoulder. But a girl can hope, right?
Anyway, the video wound down and one of the last things I heard was the model gushing about Sports Illustrated wanting only the best. Or something like that. And my response as I was exiting the office was, “Nope, they only want naked women.” Because sex sells.
Hubs made a disgusted noise – a cross between a harrumph and a snort and I turned back, questioning his response.
“It’s crazy,” he began. “Women … with almost no body fat, who are attractive to look at and who aren’t shy about letting others see them naked – they get paid so much money!”
I’m paraphrasing here because let’s face it, I was on my way to bed and I didn’t stop to take notes. Later, when I was more coherent he elaborated that he equated it with them selling their bodies (um yeah, like prostitutes who don’t go all the way). I do remember agreeing that night that it was ridiculous and fleetingly thinking of the professional athletes who get kajillions of dollars for their skill with a ball or a putter, or [pick a sport accoutrement].
I suppose if we’re analogizing the two then these women are getting paid for their ability to disrobe and pose. Isn’t that about ALL they do? Oh sorry, there is that solid gold skill – separating millions and millions of men from their cash. And some women too.
According to CNNMoney, advertisers will pay $35 million to appear in the swimsuit issue this year. And that’s only part of the revenue generated. What the article (Bikini empire) refers to as “secondary products” are worth around $10 million by themselves. Products like calendars, DVDs and television programs. Also, in a conversation SI publisher Dave Morris had with swimsuit manufacturers they advised him that “to have their suit on cover (sic) or in issue (sic) is huge, that it guarantees a sell-out for that product.”
Columbia University journalism professor Sandy Padwe, a former senior editor at SI was quoted, “I don’t know when enough is enough, but they’ll push it as far as they can push it. When they start to see a downside, they’ll pull back, but they’ll never stop selling sex.”
The January 20, 1964 issue broke ground, devoting the cover and six pages to swimsuits with Babette March as the first cover girl. It was intended to “keep SI readers, mostly men, interested between the end of the football season and baseball’s spring training….” (Bikini empire.) The New York Daily News reports that Ms. March’s build was what some people euphemistically refer to as “athletic” while the current cover girl, Kate Upton practically spills out of her “dental floss” bikini.
The Daily News article also quotes former SI editor, Walter Bingham (writing in the Cape Cod Times): “At a certain point, the section became so big, such a money-maker, it was decided to make it an issue unto itself.” … “The suits got skimpier and skimpier, the models’ attributes bigger and bigger.” (Color me surprised!)
Thinking about this really steams me. It reminds me of all those Girls Gone Wild videos where twenty-somethings are eager to reveal all for the camera, engage in girl-on-girl foreplay activity, etc. And to what end? What the hell happened to self-respect? Equal rights? What did so many women fight for all those years ago – and continue to fight for today? The right to show your boobs to anyone and everyone who will look? The right to be treated like a sex object – AGAIN? Please say it ain’t so!
Whoa, back the truck up! Did I digress there or what? Sorry about that.
This discussion started with me finding Hubs perusing the end of the video with nearly naked Arel (or whatever) prancing around on the beach and acting as a perch for a cute little parakeet. From the progression of my rant above you might think I am jealous of the model.
Not. In. A. Million. Years.
Seriously. I like eating.
Besides, the point of this was supposed to be that my Hubs is a man who knows what he likes and he likes me fine just the way I am. He’s 6’6” and built like a linebacker so he’s afraid he’d break one of those skinny beeotc… um ladies. I’ve been hugged by the man and I see his point. At 5’10” and mumble pounds, I’m no shrinking violet and he isn’t going to break me with a hug. Thank goodness!
My apologies. I didn’t intend this to be an attack on skinny women. It sort of evolved on its own into a rant about today’s young women who appear to have dismissed what others fought long and hard for – respect. I wasn’t very involved in the women’s movement when it was getting started, but I’ll bet I know what those women would say today.
Poop! Parakeet poop!