This year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue comes with a message.
“It’s about allowing women to exist in the world without being harassed or judged regardless of how they like to present themselves,” editor MJ Day told Vanity Fair. “That’s an underlying thread that exists throughout the Swimsuit Issue.
“You have Harvard graduates, you have billion-dollar moguls, you have philanthropists, you have teachers, you have mothers — you have a full range of women represented in the alumnus of this magazine, and not one of them failed because they wore a bikini.”
In this era of #MeToo, when powerful men accused of sexual assault in nearly every industry have faced consequences and backlash, this year’s swimsuit edition allows the models to use their naked bodies as a canvas.
And on that canvas, the model can define herself “In Her Own Words” — the name of the 2018 issue.
“In Her Own Words is a continuation and evolution of the essence of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit,” Sports Illustrated wrote. “It is a platform that allows the voice, the strength and the passion of these women to be expressed in the rawest form … on the naked body … with all the artistic and creative control left to them.
“With a stripped down studio and team of all females, we handed over the control to the women who are our brand. We believed in, supported and encouraged them to become a canvas and share their truth.”
Some models, such as Sailor Brinkley-Cook, have already shared images from the photo shoot, which is set for release next week, USA Today reported.
Brinkley-Cook wrote that her photo shows that she’s “a fighter.”
“I am strong. I am romantic. I am creative,” she wrote in the caption. “I am optimistic. I am natural. I am a work in progress, constantly evolving and learning.”
Day told Vanity Fair that while the photo shoot will still be “sexy,” it will also give her subjects “a real opportunity to be who they are.”
“You’re always an actor, you’re always a part of the photograph, you’re always performing for something: for the brand, the photographer, the spirit of the photograph, and you’re never really your most authentic self,” she said.
For Paulina Porizkova, who has the word “TRUTH” etched upon her body, the new project will promote body positivity.
“In a way, it’s more than being naked. It’s not just that you’re nude, but it’s also ‘you’re nude and you show me the way you want me to see you.’ It’s even more naked than naked,” she told Sports Illustrated. “I wanted to say that I’m not ashamed of my body and you shouldn’t be ashamed of your body, no matter what age you are.
“We all have our own truths,” she continued. “We all want to live according to our own truths. We want to be true to ourselves so truth is what matters more than anything.”
Not everyone was happy about the images, however. Many questioned if they actually send a message of female empowerment.