The annual swimsuit issue features a few unedited images, shot by an all-female crew. But is it just a token gesture, buying into the rally-cry of #MeToo?
Sports Illustrated (SI) has made history in its latest issue, publishing a series of nude black and white photos which aimed to hand over creative control to the models themselves. The spread - titled In Her Own Words - appears alongside the magazine's annual swimsuit photoshoot, which was this year shot in the Carribean.
The women who took part in the project span a range of ages and body types, including Australian Robyn Lawley, American Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and Sailor Brinkley Cook, who are emblazoned with words like 'survivor', 'artist' and 'nurturer'. The series also featured Brenna Huckaby, a snowboard paralympian, who lost her leg at age 15 to bone cancer.
The models were asked to choose their own words - whatever words they wanted - which were then painted on their bodies and photographed by Taylor Ballantyne, with an all-female crew in the studio. The images are accompanied by essays from the models, telling the story behind some of the words they chose.
As well as modelling in the issue, Robyn got behind the camera, filming women who she says were "strong, fierce, sexy and deserving".
"Never have I felt more support from a magazine, not only putting me in their pages at my glorious 6'2" frame, but also nurturing my passion for cinematography," Robyn says in the issue.
While SI has made a move to celebrate and empower women in its highly-anticipated swimsuit special, we have to wonder if - in 2018 - it's too little, too late. Including one small spread in an entire issue feels like a token gesture that leverages off hashtags like #MeToo and #TimesUp, and profits from the stories of victims and survivors of sexual harrassment.
In Her Own Words certainly marks an important step forward for the magazine, but do images splashed throughout the rest of the issue actually empower women, or does it still focus on and highlight women's size and appearance over their substance and success?
We think that - for now - SI's In Her Own Words is a positive move towards encouraging, celebrating and empowering women. Next year, we hope to see a much more diverse range of models featured, and - fingers-crossed - the magazine's first-ever untouched issue.
Image source: Sports Illustrated