Maybe SI cover should have Lindsey Vonn in the kitchen

February 05, 2010 | Drew Forrester

Talk about people with too much time on their hands.

Last week, the public outcry from certain groups in America focused on a Super Bowl TV commercial featuring a mother and her son sharing their life-story.  Once the folks protesting that commercial realized how idiotic they looked, they simmered down and started researching the next wild goose chase they could intitate.

Evidently, they found it.

The new horror of horrors surrounds an upcoming Sports Illustrated cover shot of U.S. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn.  Not only can she ski like a champion, she’s also a hottie.  Those two elements make her a front cover candidate in the same way they would make a football player (Tom Brady), basketball player (Kobe Bryant) or baseball player (Derek Jeter) a candidate if, in fact, any of those athletes were featured on the cover of a cross-over publication that catered to a female audience.

Here’s the cover shot and the “outrageous” and “overly suggestive” and “sexually charged” picture featuring Lindsey Vonn.

 vonn

If you’re puzzled as to why that photo is causing such outcry with these storm chasers like womentalksports.com, I’m with you.

It’s not like the SI cover shot has Bode Miller stationed behind Lindsey Vonn in a doggystyle position with a mischevious look on HIS face and a look of blissful satisfaction on HER face (although Miller might volunteer for that pic if someone wants to take it…). 

She’s a skier, right?  Don’t skier’s go downhill in a tuck position like the one depicted on the cover?  Of course.  The picture doesn’t have Vonn laying out by a hot tub with her left-hip tattoo exposed and a ski covering her breasts with her right nipple peaking out.  That – for sure – would have rightfully been considered offensive (but certainly marketable) to Vonn, women, etc. 

The picture on the cover of SI.com features her in a skiing pose.  It’s not like Vonn’s moments of intimacy with her husband take place in a ski suit and boots.  This is her work uniform, for lack of a better term.

Lindsey Vonn is a skier.  She’s also attractive.  Neither of those points can be argued.

However, according to womentalksports.com and others, over-sexualizing Vonn is wrong.  To wit:

Vonn is first a GREAT athlete, but she also represents norm of feminine attractiveness. The combination of athleticism and attractiveness make Vonn the likely poster girl of the US Olympic Team, and the media hasn’t disappointed in constructed her as such.

Not to be left out, Sports Illustrated is featuring Vonn on their Feb. 8, 2010 cover. For those of you who follow SI Covers, know that female athletes are RARELY featured on the cover.

Over the last 60 years researchers have shown that about 4% of all SI covers have portrayed women.

When females are featured on the cover of SI, they are more likely than not to be in sexualized poses and not in action-and the most recent Vonn cover is no exception.

So typical.  Groups like womentalksports.com bellyache because “only 4%” of SI cover photos feature women, then when someone like Vonn comes along worthy of a cover pic, they’re upset because the lens captured her beauty and not her ability to read Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead in between training sessions. 

It’s Lindsey Vonn’s fault she’s attractive and, in her line of work, wears a hat and a ski goggles that hide her pretty smile and sparkling eyes.   Yes?  No, it’s not. 

If Danica Patrick gets a SI cover in May after (maybe) winning a race, would the cover show her in her car, hidden behind screens and belts and buried underneath a helmet?  Of course not.  Likewise, if the U.S. Olympic Hockey team goalie – Tim Thomas or Ryan Miller – pitches a shutout in the gold medal game in mid-February and the SI “celebration” edition puts the goalie on the cover with the medal draped from his neck, will they put him in his mask for the front cover pic?  Right…of course they wouldn’t.

People want to see faces.  Smiles.  Eyes. 

Pretty people sell things.  Last time I checked, I haven’t seen a woman who’s fifty pounds overweight doing any Victoria’s Secret ads on television. 

If the SI cover of Lindsey Vonn would have her taking her husband’s laundry to the dry cleaner, maybe I could understand the outrage. 

In this case, they put her in a pose that covered nearly every element of her value:  she’s a skier and she’s pretty and she’s getting ready to compete on behalf of the United States.

I’ll be rooting for her in February, that’s for sure.

In fact, now that I read the outcry from women’s groups chastising SI for their choice of cover pictures, I might even root just a little harder for her to win a gold medal.

After all, if she wins gold in Vancouver, Playboy can’t be far behind, right?

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