SI editor tones down swimsuit issue

February 18, 1993|By Newsday

Calvin Klein may be having his models take more and more off in his jeans advertisements, but Sports Illustrated senior editor Jule Campbell seems to be putting more back on hers.

The magazine's 1993 February swimsuit issue hit newsstands yesterday, and the consensus is that Ms. Campbell has put together a tamer edition than in past years of hot beach attire for women.

"If anything, I get pressure from my editors to go with the flow and the flow is for more skin not less these days," Ms. Campbell said. "But I still think what you don't see becomes more tantalizing than what you see."

Even so, there are women who are not happy that there is a swimsuit edition at all.

"It is totally inappropriate for what is essentially a men's magazine to have a fashion spread of swimsuits entirely for women," said Ann Simonton, who appeared on the cover of the 1974 swimsuit issue. Ms. Simonton now heads a consumer group called Media Watch, which wants the magazine to eliminate the swimsuit issue.

To Ms. Simonton and other women who have been putting pressure on advertisers to boycott the issue -- and with some success since Hyundai pulled out this year after being a regular advertiser in the issue -- the swimsuit layout is only a step or two away from pornography because it portrays women as sex objects.

Moreover, the women are almost exclusively white, predominantly blond and all seem to boast large eyes, small noses and large mouths, which prompts the critics to contend that the Sports Illustrated display promotes only a very narrow, stereotyped view of beauty in women.

Sports Illustrated says its swimsuit issue is read by one out of every four Americans -- making it one of the best-read single issues of any magazine in the world. Advertisers pay a premium -- $156,410 for a single, full-color page. And this year's newsstand edition sells for $4.95 -- a dollar more than last year, and $2 more than conventional issues of Sports Illustrated.

For the 11 models who were chosen for this year's edition, it's just another job -- a job, however, that could mean more money and definitely more exposure.

"I feel like I am this close to achieving my goals," said 26-year-old Swedish model Vendela, this year's cover model who has aspirations to work in films. "This opportunity could open those doors for me, and for that I am very happy and hopeful."

Tyra, the youngest model at 19 and the only black, said she has problems with the fact that Sports Illustrated has never chosen a black or Asian model for its cover. But in only her second year as a model, she concedes that the opportunity was too good to pass up.

"I consider myself very militant when it comes to black awareness and feminism," Tyra said. "But I appear in Vogue in bathing suits so I'm not sure I see the difference. Except that Sports Illustrated can make me a household name."

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