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Friday, February 5, 2010

Let the Lindsey hype begin: Vonn is Sports Illustrated cover girl

Lindsey Vonn is hoping the Sports Illustrated cover jinx doesn't cross international borders. America's great Winter Olympic hope is featured on the front of SI's Winter Olympic preview issue, which hit newsstands Wednesday.
Vonn's semi-provocative pose has drawn the predictable ire from those who claim that it objectifies her. She's an athlete, not a sex symbol, the chorus inevitably reminds us.
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.
They have a point in taking issue with SI; the magazine rarely features women athletes on the cover (as evidenced by that statistic) and its annual swimsuit issue has been a focus of protests for decades. But Vonn's cover is different.  
The pose at least resembles the tuck stance skiers like Vonn take when barrelling down the hill. It's exaggerated, of course, but not gratuitously so. It's not as if SI put her in a bikini in a Whistler hot tub. 
Also, this is Vonn's moment. If she wins multiple golds in Vancouver, Vonn has the potential to become a major crossover star. She'd be like Michael Phelps, only with better looks and an actual personality. Landing on the SI cover is a good way for her to start the Vonn saturation campaign. It's as important for her as it is the magazine. The pose is suggestive, sure, but it's not objectifying. The headline reads "America's best woman skier ever", for Jean-Claude's sake! Why can't she be both the best skier in the world and really, really attractive too? Tom Brady's a great athlete and a handsome dude and I don't hear people whine when he's shirtless in GQ.
Most importantly, this cover is almost identical to the one that ran on SI's Winter Olympic preview in 1992. That one featured a gentleman named A.J. Kitt and I'm pretty sure nobody complained that it was too provocative.


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