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REVIEW: 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

A review of the 2012 Sports Illustrated - with edits - by Ben Cathey, pastor of the Orchard Church in Loganville.

The cover shot is pretty amazing. Great choice of model. She is beautiful with her wispy blond hair, blue eyes, and radiant skin. Her suit has just enough frills to make it feminine, but not so much that it comes across like a French maid outfit. She almost fits into the suit, but it leaves a good portion of her ample . .  

I’m just kidding. I have not reviewed the 2012 Swimsuit Issue. I did see the cover photo when I clicked on si.com, but that’s it. I’ve actually made a vow with God, my wife, and my accountability partners to refrain from looking at the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues. I had a subscription for a couple of years and would just dump that issue when it came. I didn’t need it around the house. Psstt . . . it’s not really about the swimsuits or the athletes. The ladies in the magazine are amazingly beautiful. Who can help but not catch a glimpse of those models from time to time? They seem omnipresent in our culture: in commercials, in print ads, on the front page of si.com, on calendars at the mall, on Facebook pop-up ads, and on the cover of the hard copy issue which is currently near the checkout lines of nearly every big box and grocery store in America.

So what would be unsettling if I were to review the magazine? I think it has to do with lust, purity, faithfulness, and objectification of women. All that seems somehow worse for a pastor than it would be for, say, a 19-year-old boy. Why the double standard? If the swimsuit issue is not good for me, then how could it be good for another man? I guess you could say that the issue is just a celebration of feminine beauty, but even if it is just a celebration, it is a celebration of only one type of narrowly-defined feminine beauty. I’ve heard it said that we can all look, but we can’t touch. True, touching leads down a specific road that has greater consequences than looking. But somehow looking is wrong when a Peeping Tom does it and just plain creepy at a strip club. Maybe it’s a good thing at Hooters? I’ve never been there. Psstt . . . those are not owl eyes on the sign outside. I doubt looking is even that healthy at Hooters. Maybe glancing is okay, but not staring? Who is to say exactly what amount of skin, revealing clothes, and length of gaze is an appropriate mix? Maybe it’s different for every person? I’m pretty sure it’s different for every person. Physical attraction works differently for everyone. For example, every day that I grow older I see young supermodels more and more as someone’s daughter (even my daughter) instead of an unapproachable celebrity goddess who lives in a faraway place. 

I think the problem might be this. Somewhere along the way it’s just way too easy for beauty to bait lust when beauty is presented like it is in the annual swimsuit issue. I’m not against bikinis or beautiful women in them. Maybe it’s just a matter of inches and poses, but it is a matter of something. I am the one who is responsible for the way I look at or treat women. However, baiting lust is unhealthy for everyone involved. Baiting lust cheapens everyone involved, and most of all, it cheapens one of God’s greatest gifts to us: sex and sexuality. Unhindered, unfocused, or undirected lust actually steals sexual satisfaction from us in the long run. Sex is experienced best inside the deepest relational bonds of marriage. Why else would a loving God create something so incredible then tell us to focus our sexual energy on one person for life? 

I guess that’s the reason I didn’t really review the swimsuit issue. I want what God, not the executives of Sports Illustrated, has to offer. It’ll take a good amount of trust because the voices around me tell a different story. Isn’t it the right of every American male to spend a good amount of time lusting after beautiful young women? Isn’t an annual rite of passage the wet t-shirt contest during spring break? Sure, we live in a culture where lust is a right and a rite of passage for the most part; but is it best? 

As a pastor of a local church I could digest the new swimsuit issue page by page pouring over the images. I could even keep my review pretty clean, focusing on the artistic quality of the images, the camera angles, the composition of the photos, the choice of bathing suit for the model, or the location of the shoot. Would anyone believe me that I only reviewed those elements? 

So, if it’s a problem for me, why wouldn’t it be a problem for everyone? I’m not going to review the swimsuit issue and my suggestion is that you don’t either. Go home and love your wife. Be faithful to your girlfriend. Save your mind (not just your body) for your one true love.

My review of the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: The cover model is gorgeous.

Trish Gates February 19, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Stupid issue...sports then scantly clad beautiful enhanced woman...what does that have to do with sports in general?
Grant February 21, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Trish writes "Stupid issue...sports then scantly clad beautiful enhanced woman...what does that have to do with sports in general?" Duh.. Think of the demographic that SI caters too Trish . As a part of that demographic I can go out and suggest that we enjoy pictures of pretty girls. Since the swimsuit issue is SI's biggest seller every year I feel safe in my assertion . It's certainly pretty far from stupid. Naturally those of you who dont chose to enjoy that particular magazine can do as pastor Cathey suggests and simply not look at it .

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