Sports Illustrated covers stir controversy

Each year when the critically acclaimed Sports Illustrated magazine releases their swimsuit issue, everyone talks about it, but it seems that the 2016 issue is stirring the pot within the modeling industry and social networking sites.

This year, the magazine created three different covers for the edition and for the first time the issue included a plus-sized model, 28-year-old Ashley Graham. Many people took a liking to the cover, which allowed young plus-sized girls to look up to a positive female model who is comfortable with her body in a bathing suit.

Ironically, one former supermodel, Cheryl Tiegs, had a lot to say about Graham’s body and the way it was portrayed on the cover of such a renowned magazine. At a pre-Oscars party Wednesday, Tiegs told E! News that she was unhappy with the cover, saying that it was glamorizing full-figured women and ignored the fact that women of this size are “unhealthy.”  She went on to quote the television superstar surgeon/ talk-show host Dr. Oz, who claimed, “your waist should be smaller than 35 [inches], and I’m going to stick to it.”

From that quote, one can imagine how the media, feminist groups and many of Hollywood’s social elite were outraged.  Twitter users went off on Tiegs and the backlash she received for trying to rephrase her original statement only made matters worse.  After making the 35 inches comment, she failed to realize Graham’s actual waist size was 30 inches, far below the TV doctor’s suggested view of health.

Regardless, Tiegs’ input concerning this situation came directly from her, she was not influenced by anyone and did not jump on a bandwagon to raise this opinion she created.  Other models that were featured on different editions of the issue saw this remark but only used it as fuel to speak on behalf of young women who are judged because of their body type.

The 2010 Olympic gold medalist, Lindsey Vonn, was one of the other athlete models on the cover and even she was subject to scrutiny for posing in just body paint.  This is 2016, where no one is sure whether female bodies are being exploited in the media or are not given enough credit and being “shamed.”  Body shaming is a social pandemic that is rising among individuals throughout the nation, and around the world. 

When one begins to create their definition of beauty without checking with others, conflicts like this one regarding the Sports Illustrated issue arise.

I partially blame and am disappointed with Dr. Oz for actually suggesting a “correct” body type on television. Yes, he is a professional doctor, but it leads individuals to recite information that they hear once, which can have a major effect on others. The differences in body types are supposed to be praised, and the confidence that models like Graham and Vonn have is supposed to be inspiring.

Sports Illustrated should not be asked to change anything about their new covers. They are only promoting a positive outlook for women everywhere, and setting the stage for modeling industry changes for years to come.