Vonn Watch: Sports Illustrated Cover is Predictable

posted by One Sport Voice
Friday, February 5, 2010 at 3:44pm EST

Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi: This blog reflects my critical eye and voice on all things sport. I am a critical thinker, scholar, and researcher in girls & women in sport, youth sport, and coach & sport parent education.

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Sports Illustrated February 8, 2010 Cover

I’ve thought to myself and predicted out loud that leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics that we would see a LOT of Lindsey Vonn in the media.

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 February 8,2010 cover (pictured here). For those of you who follow SI Covers, know that female athletes are RARELY featured on the cover.

2007 Sports Illustrated Covers Featuring Women

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.

Follow up response to the overwhelming response to this post!

I’ve been getting a LOT of comments in this particular blog. It seems I’ve touched a nerve and many disagree with my interpretation of Vonn on the cover of SI. And many of the comments provide alternative perspectives, which is good for discussion. First, let me say I am a fan of Vonn. I have nothing against her and am proud she is a Minnesotan. I am also not saying that Vonn thrives on the attention of the sport media, or seeks it out. I believe she is being covered so frequently because of the combination of the skill, accomplishment, AND her appearance. I have to disagree that this pose in “in action”. In sport media research, we would code that as a passive shot. She is not actually ON the slope skiing, with her helmet on. She IS in a posed tuck position in an attempt to simulate what actually skiing would look like. Yes she is “in uniform” but not her complete uniform and she appears to be on the slope. Picture this as a way to frame what I’m trying to get at: Picture a male ski racer in a similar pose on the cover of SI, smiling at the camera. Would we see that? How would you react to that picture, verses the picture of Vonn? As one blog commenter seemed to hint at, this pose is “ok” because she is hot and sexy, so she is nice to look at. How would “we” feel if the female skier did not meet normative standards of feminine attractiveness (i.e., she was “ugly”) and was in the same pose? I appreciate everyone’s willingness to share their opinions.

Some have brought up a good point that male athletes have been photographed in similar poses, and I do not deny this fact. However, the argument is that because female athletes only receive 6-8% of all sport media coverage regardless of the medium, that when we DO see them it is MORE LIKELY in poses that highlight traditional gender norms, femininity and framed in a way that can be interpreted as sexualized. So yes, Ohno or Kitt have been on the cover in similar ways but we will more likely see male athletes in action, on the court/ice/mat, and in their uniform that we will female athletes, this is a proven fact over the last 25 years of sport media research. -nml

Follow up Part 2 (2/5/10): Thank you to everyone who has submitted a comment. I have approved a sampling of the hundreds of comments that are representative of the varying opinions about this cover and issue. As you can read in the "About This Blog" tab, my goal with this blog is "help readers see the issues I write about with a different perspective (not necessarily one that you agree with)". It is clear not everyone agreed with the critique of the Vonn SI cover and that is the point, to stimulate dialogue about an issue.

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There are 104 comments on this post. Join the discussion!

pov says:

I think you missed an important point - success. Vonn is the most successful USA woman's skier and is leading the WC currently. If that were not the case she might nopt be one of the "poster girls" That said, she is hot. And that's okay, in fact Dr LaVoi, you're a very attractive woman yourself (http://www.womentalksports.com/images/biopic38.JPG)

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:23am EST

robingee says:

How is this pose sexual and not in action? It's the opposite of what you say it is! She is skiing! They bend over like that when they go down the hill, she's not sticking her butt out randomly.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 3:42pm EST

JAD says:

So I got to this story through another website talking about this story. I think you are way off base. The only reason anyone would have thought of this as an inappropriate picture is because the thought created by your article. You do more harm than good by looking at everything through the lens of "sexualized" intentions. Don't diminish what this young woman is trying to accomplish.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 4:46pm EST

Mr HBTito says:

How ridiculous are you. This is the pose she is in during most of her runs. Maybe you should watch more of the sport before you make your judgment. Its a similar picture to the Winter Olympics pose from 1992.
It seems like you're choosing to make this an issue than it actually being an issue. Have you asked Lindsey how SHE feels about being on the cover and the photo itself. Or how she is happy that she's been successful as an athlete and just happens to have good genes.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 5:30pm EST

PhilB says:

What's funny - as a man, I didn't think of this as a provocative pose until you said something. People are too damn sensitive nowadays - always looking for something to complain about.

However, I would not be surprised if this comment was carefully calculated to elicit a response and drive traffic to this site. So, can we now accuse you of exploitation?

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 5:33pm EST

tuckandgo says:

Vonn happens to be a very successful skiier that is in the tuck position which all skiiers do to make up time, come people get real. Good luck and bring home the gold. Stay low in your tuck position.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 5:59pm EST

DrTara says:

The next thing you tell us is that gymnasts shouldn't be photographed while doing splits, and ice skaters should avoid leaping displays near cameras for fear of being "sexualized".

She's showing zero skin, her female body contours are well concealed by her sport-appropriate gear, and she has been posed to appear to be skiing DOWN a hill, which explains why her rear end is in the air. She's not posing for a beer ad in a bikini.

Do you suggest female athletes wear burkas, or just stay out of the limelight altogether? Or, should we only allow only eunuchs, prudes, and The Amish to publish photos of female athletes?

I am more concerned about the other major issue in American media; the wholesale hijacking of another person's moment of fame as a weak attempt as self-ascendancy. You're an educated, professional person, and I believe you can do better than this low-brow pandering to the hyper-sensitive and gender-squeamish.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:01pm EST

cs92563 says:

Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi has some personal sexuality issues she needs to explore!!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:07am EST

ThinkFirstThenWrite says:

This WomenTalkSports post is completely devoid of intelligence. It's cute that you want EVERYTHING to depict women according to your liking, but let's examine five simple facts in a useful order.

1. SI is a business - they make money by selling advertising space which is based on the size and demographic of their subscriber/newsstand-purchaser base.
2. SI is focused on an essentially purely male (heterosexual at that) demographic.
3. Straight men would prefer to see female athletes (who fit the norm of feminine attractiveness, as you worded it) depicted like this, and don't at all care how you would like them shown.
4. SI will aim to please and thereby maintain and even grow their subscriber/newsstand-purchaser base.
5. If you don't like the way SI depicts things, you don't have to buy SI. If you are disappointed at the "objectification" of L. Vonn, then you're not among the people they're hoping will buy the magazine anyway. Thus, in short, nobody who actually matters in relation to controlling SI covers will care at all about the opinion of WomenTalkSports.

Get it? I could throw in a sixth fact that would make your skin really crawl. Ok, I can hear you asking for it, here it is.

6. Your dumb little blog actually put some extra limelight on SI, and thereby will actually boost their sales. The take home message for the powers that be at SI will be that covers like this are what they need to keep making. Oops, your stupid blog actually shot your stupid cause in the foot! :P

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 3:48am EST

JJT says:

So, Ms LaVoi has a problem with the picture of Lindsey Vonn. I am so sick of this politically correct crowd manipulating information to drive their own financial cause.

Statement #1) women Athletes are rarely featured on their cover.
A) Well, the most popular sports in North America are Football, Basketball, Hockey, Baseball. No women participate in those sports (unless you consider the lingere league or cheerleaders?). It isn't until you get to less popular sports like Soccer, Golf and Tennis that women participate, and even then the female activity is far less popular (by any measure %u2013 revenue, prize money, attendance, viewing audience) than the male equivalent. Perhaps if you used % of participation vs. % of cover stories you might get a VERY favourable result.

Statement #2) Over the last 60 years researchers have shown that about 4% of all SI covers have portrayed women
A) If you want to have any credibility at all, why would you use 60 year old data to reflect modern day values? Unless, of course you are suggesting that there has been no change in the role of women in society since 1950? Perhaps you should use data from the past 10 years (but maybe that wouldn't support your cause?) Additionally, are you suggesting that Women should be on the cover of SI every week for the next 27 years to balance the equation?

Statement #3) When females are featured on the cover of SI, they are more likely than not to be in sexualized poses
A) First of all, I don't think this is true. Notwithstanding the swimsuit issue, I would suggest that most women are portrayed the same way as men. Moreover, I suspect the female athletes have agreed to a specific picture being used?? So is your beef with SI, or the athlete?
Secondly, the swimsuit issue is a long standing, fun issue which sells very well because it is popular and people want to see it.

Nicole M. LaVoi, you describe yourself as having a %u2018critical eye%u2019 and being a %u2018critical thinker, scholar, and researcher%u2019. Well, Ms LaVoi, if you want to retain ANY credibility, I suggest that you hone your skills somewhat and stop trying to mislead your audience with flawed and misrepresented data.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 4:26am EST

noelpark says:

Regardless of what anyone is saying to the contrary, this photo is highly suggestive -- and designed to illicit a response. Kudos to the US Olympic marketing department, Vonn's publicist, etc., and to SI magazine for selling more magazines to suckers via controversy.

There is a glaring difference between this shot and the 1992 Olympic shot of A.J. Kitt skiing. His is an absolute action shot. You do not see his face. It is art. In Vonn's photo, the first thing you see is her butt sticking up in the air, covering part of the SI logo. Her face IS in the picture but it's a very small part of the picture. She's smiling prettily at the camera, but you don't notice this until later. It's essentially the last thing you see. Usually, a pretty face like hers takes center stage in a photo. It's the first thing you notice. And then the body. That's why this cover IS provocative even if the average Joe claims not to notice until someone points it out. Which is the whole point of this cover.

Whatever side of the fence you sit on, whether you've decided it's okay for sex to sell, the point of this cover is to sell. And it will. Just look at all these comments. That's the whole point of this exercise. It's not to showcase Vonn's success per se. It's about increasing sales via controversy. It's marketing pure and simple.

It's not just Vonn that's being used (although she may very well think this is all cool and that the pluses of potential wealth following from all this "controversy" outweigh any objectification by the masses), we're also being used. The very fact that I'm commenting (or even bothered to follow this link), speaks volumes. This whole thing is a waste of consumer's time and money. And yet we all buy in (me included).

Like I said before, Kudos to everyone (SI, the Olympics, and us) for helping to make this chick rich and famous...and not necessaryily for her skiing.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 5:29am EST

JimK says:

For us int he ski racing community, Lindsay Vonn is nothing less than Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth put together. She is an attractive, drug-free, skiing machine. Whether D. LaVoi likes it or not...she is in a downhill skiing position and travels at 70 miles per hour in that speed suit in below-freezing temperatures. She is skilled (the world leader) in other skiing disciplines.

Nice try but Lindsay Vonn can't be tarnished by your uneducated attempt to interpret the cover picture for your own gain. You did accomplish one thing, our family did not even know your site existed until your comments were posted. We, at least, owe you a thenks for pointing us to WTS.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 5:40am EST

mishel24 says:

I don't need to comment at all - DrTara's comments reflect mine exactly. When I saw the headline I was expecting a bikini shot or something.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 6:22am EST

landt32210 says:

I think the mere thought of calling this provacativ is stupid and it shows jealousy on the part of all women who have an issue with it. She's skiing people!!! Was she supposed to be photographed nitting or sitting indian style to be sure not to be sexualized?

What's even worse is that it's because of other women, that her moment has been tainted and over-powered by simple thinking. This was the blog of a scholar, but you used 60 years of data to prove your point (As if things are hardly the same now). Even more, you stated women don't play Hockey, Football, Basketball, and Baseball which is untrue. Highschools have flag football for girls along with softball and basketball for girls. Realistically speaking women really don't want to play hockey because we're a more peaceful speices (This is how we are made).

The next time you would like to criticize a female athlete's photo for be sexualized; make sure you're not the one sexualizing it!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 7:47am EST

SharonOH says:

DrTara is spot on. Get real and stop being ridiculous.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:01am EST

Unique says:

Chris Chase would like to discredit the SI Cover's sexualization of Vonn on their cover siting a "similar' cover for the "almost identical" covered "a gentleman named A.J. Kitt". How blind! Does Kitt pose with a cute smile and then have the photo cut and pasted at a 45% angle with mountains decorating the background??? What SI missed, as usual, is that the excitement of the action, male or female, captured in the photo, dignifies the magazine, expands the legitimacy of the athlete for endorsements and puts out a healthy role model for youth. But, then there is SI and the willingness to get a buck no matter the consequences. Oh well.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:18am EST

Unique says:

arg spelling error...not sitting... but Chris did site ...

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:19am EST

NEsurfer says:

Ok, now you are fishing for something to either make this website get attention or you really are out of your minds. I have to agree w/Phil B. As a man i didn't think this pose was provocative AT ALL when i got the issue in the mail. Maybe that's the problem with men and women - women don't understand what is and isn't sexy to a man unless it's blatant and just see any non-static pose an attractive woman makes as provocative. It's true, Lindsey is damn sexy no matter what she puts on, sorry, but she's an attractive female so it's a fight to make her unattractive anytime, anyplace, any pose! But, honestly, i was pumped to see photos of her working out in her skimpy workout clothes inside the mag. Damn straight, that's what i jumped inside the magazine first for! So what? Can't women be sexy AND athletic? Why are you trying so hard to make women into men if they are athletic?? Athletes are sexy,men and women alike. Let's face it, part of the reason that women on this site stay in shape is to LOOK BETTER NAKED. We are all attracted to people in good shape, so stop whining about it ladies and flaunt it from time to time if you've earned it! Its makes you more powerful and well rounded. stop acting like the victim and support a successful woman athlete who gets a cover of SI (sorry, you are WRONG - this is not a suggestive pose) and maybe women will get more or these. why do women love to tear other successful women apart any chance they get? be proud of Lindsay for goddsakes and stop trolling for things to whine about. that's I gurantee is the OPPOSITE of sexy to us men!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:35am EST

SkiBum says:

As a former ski racer, I find it appalling and offensive, that anyone would make such uneducated comments on the proper ski position for downhill racing. It is ludicrous that an article as such would try to elicit some sort of sexual provocation. These are the times when I hate being associated with any sort of women's movements. It is truly embarassing. Do your research.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:36am EST

GoodTimeDJ says:

What a bunch of feminazis! How can you write such garbage and expect to be respected as serious journalists? To put such a negative spin on a magazine cover shows you just have nothing better to write about when it comes to women in sports. Lindsay Vonn is a beautiful woman (unlike most of you feministas) and for a woman to be on the cover of SI NOT wearing a bikini should be looked at as a great accomplishment in women's sports. But Chris Chase would rather look at SI as being exploitative and take away Ms. Vonn's shining moment Shame on you, Chris. Stick to writing about real sports stories, like steroid use among synchronized swimmers.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:43am EST

NEsurfer says:

Go get 'em SkiBum! You know, I teach women's surf clinics, if you had a cover shot of ANY woman in any proper "surf" position (lying on a board while paddling, crouched over about to do a bottom turn, or bent over grabbing a rail), it would look attractive because WOMEN WHO ARE ATHLETIC ARE ATTRACTIVE TO 99% OF MEN. It's not the poses: it's the confidence, the focus, the respect of skill AND the fact you look good while doing it!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:46am EST

Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi says:

I've been getting a lot of comments in this particular blog. It seems I've touched a nerve and many disagree with my interpretation of Vonn on the cover of SI. And many of the comments provide alternative perspectives, which is good for discussion. First, let me say I am a fan of Vonn. I have nothing against her and am proud she is a Minnesotan. I am also not saying that Vonn thrives on the attention of the sport media, or seeks it out. I believe she is being covered so frequently because of the combination of the skill, accomplishment, AND her appearance. I have to disagree that this pose in "in action". In sport media research, we would code that as a passive shot. She is not actually ON the slope skiing, with her helmet on. She IS in a posed tuck position in an attempt to simulate what actually skiing would look like. Yes she is "in uniform" but not her complete uniform and she appears to be on the slope. Picture this as a way to frame what I'm trying to get at: Picture a male ski racer in a similar pose on the cover of SI, smiling at the camera. Would we see that? How would you react to that picture, verses the picture of Vonn. As one blog commenter seemed to hint at, this pose is "ok" because she is hot and sexy, so she is nice to look at. How would "we" feel if the female skier did not meet normative standards of feminine attractiveness (i.e., she was "ugly") and was in the same pose? I appreciate everyone's willingness to share their opinions.You can see more comments on this blog post at my blog homepage http://nicolemlavoi.com/2010/02/02/vonn-watch/

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 9:30am EST

OUQT says:

This argument is completely idiotic. Arguing about the fact that her bum is in the air is like saying that SI objectifys female swimmers by photographing them in swimsuits. Athletes have beautiful bodies. That is why we (men and women) find them attractive. They have honed their tools (bodies) into precision instruments, and they have to contort them into sometimes awkward positions to get them to perform necessary tasks. So her tush is up. Do we get up in arms when we se someone take pictures of Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford's cute little tush stuck up in the air?

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 9:32am EST

GetOverIt says:

She looks fine, absolutely beautiful. And in no way does she look provocative. This is how you ski down a hill, right. Is she supposed to stand up straight because she is a woman? Quit finding things to whine about already and be proud there IS a woman athlete on the cover of sports illustrated and not the normal everyday male athletes we are used to seeing!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:02am EST

kissmymango says:

Typical. Can't have a single female athlete just be an athlete, got to knock her down and put her in her place.

I don't understand how people can be so incredibly stupid that they don't see the HUGE GLARING difference in the way male and female athletes are treated.

people saying "you're just looking for things to whine about" are really saying "I'm not smart enough to consider nuance! Stop trying to make me think and shake your titties!"

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:42am EST

casper58 says:

I think the real problem is that women like you make a big deal out of little crap like this, and when the big problems arise everyone is so sick of hearing about how women are mistreated or exploited they dont care. This woman is a big girl, if she was uncomfortable with the shoot then she could have said no. Please focus on more important things... like maybe rape laws. I cant believe you will bitch about this but yet you are not working to make stronger laws against a man who rapes a woman. It blows me away that someone can take the innocense of a woman no matter the age, and only spend what... 3 to 7 in the pen... WOW!!! Or what about the man who beats his wife? How long does he sit in jail? Not long enough! Those are the tough ones but you would rather detract from those with this. She is an amazeing athelete and a beautiful woman, and your trying to take her spotlight with b.s. like this. Find a cause worth something and put your energy towards that.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:43am EST

kissmymango says:

Actually, the real problem is that most people are apparently incapable of critical thinking. Look at her hair. It's pretty DAMN OBVIOUS she didn't pose with her ass in the air like that. Learn to think.

it's so cute when clueless morons try to put intelligent women in their place with empty arguments and idiotic logical fallacies. If you can't get your seven brain cells to cooperate enough to think before posting, then don't.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:45am EST

NEsurfer says:

Dr Nicole, the people (Men AND Women) have spoken and you're approval ratings are falling faster than Obama at a health insurance seminar! Please focus on writing something useful and insightful about Lindsey instead of making up more points that are fruitless to defend at this point. I look forward to better articles with substance.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:46am EST

sloov says:

I'm sorry, but if there was a picture of her sitting in a church in a long peasant dress I'd still be thinking about banging her

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:47am EST

JaySHAWks says:

Where is the controversy? She is a downhill skier have you not seen the sport before? Obviously not? She is in a tuck position for God sake! Its amazing how warped this society is getting! I am not offended at all by the picture, I am offended that you all would stoop so low in trying to make this a story!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:48am EST

robm says:

Nicole: I'm afraid the comments have got it about right. The article was a bit wrong-headed. The photo itself is of an action pose. Not a live-action shot, true, but an athletic pose not unlike those sometimes seen on magazine covers. To see it as "sexualized" panders to the priggish mind (or to one extremely perverse, or perhaps to both).

Nor is there anything wrong with admiring athletic physiques; we've in fact been doing so for centuries (the male form in particular): Ancient Greek and Roman Sculpture: Heracles Hercules Farnese

Thus DrTara, OUQT, et al., are right to reject this as a puritanical trifle that has little to do with advancing the cause of women in sport.

But let's look at things another way, Nicole. You now hold the "most commented" title on WTS. An accomplishment that will stand for--well, maybe forever. :)

P.S. -- In contexts such as this I like to recommend an article that makes clear the vagaries of "objectification":
Letters from a broad...: Questioning Objectification

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:00pm EST

casper58 says:

So to quote kissmymango "Actually, the real problem is that most people are apparently incapable of critical thinking. Look at her hair. It's pretty DAMN OBVIOUS she didn't pose with her ass in the air like that. Learn to think.

it's so cute when clueless morons try to put intelligent women in their place with empty arguments and idiotic logical fallacies. If you can't get your seven brain cells to cooperate enough to think before posting, then don'ting kissmymango ".... no kidding of course they took the pic on a flat spot then turned the pic to make it look like she is going downhill... she is a DOWNHILL skier. And i have 8 brain cells thank you. Maybe you should go read my other post, have another chi tea, and really think about it.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:02pm EST

wannabangVonn says:

Give me a break, you people that think there is a problem with the cover are a bunch of idiots. She's in a tuck position, anyone that skis knows that you do that all the time to get more speed. The only ones complaining are the jealous ones cause no one wants to bang them.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:04pm EST

BarefootJean says:

After reading this commentary I can't believe the author is a PhD. The opinion is silly and self-serving to begin with. On top of that, she doesn't know that "media" is a plural noun (singular is "medium"). And please, "athleticism" does not mean the same as athletic ability. Don't write the way people speak on television. Now, to the point, Vonn is fully clothed. How is this sexually objectifying her? I guess the good doctor would howl no matter what the SI cover looked like if there were a female athlete pictured.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:06pm EST

LaneLetsReasonRule says:

womentalksports.com says the cover of SI W/Vonn is sexist/Maybe a woman competing in a 5K run/walk just weeks after a 4th abortion would do?

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:21pm EST

AmandaM says:

Nice pub for SI

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:23pm EST

AmandaM says:

Feminists never seem to realize how ridiculous they appear when they make comments like this.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:26pm EST

anngaff says:

It's amazing to me that someone's opinion can spark so much hate. Dr. LaVoi posed a question and her opinion. It was not a hateful opinion, as she did not insult Vonn or blame her for the pose.

If you disagree, that's fine. But why someone else's opinion ignites such hatred in your words and tone is beyond me.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:27pm EST

casper58 says:

Yes there is some hate or idiots in this thread... But what Im mostly reading is that the feminist movement in this country is really just a misguided group of ppl. that dont really care about real issues and are being called out.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:37pm EST

abellora says:

She's tremendously graceful on the slopes, but a bit klutzy off them, from what I hear (so human). They're calling her legendary, already! She's ours and a fantastic ambassador too. She's given her sport a quantum leap of popularity. Like Michael did (Oh my God!!...those skimpy, tight, swim suits, LOOK AWAY). Lindsey is very beautiful and sexy by nature...not different than most fit athletes. That's not a bad thing. She always stays tight when she's flying. That's one of the reasons she wins a lot. I'm guessing you don't know how she got there. She's risking her life each time she goes down. Try to get that feeling. By putting her in the context that you have, cheapens all that she stands for.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:40pm EST

a man says:

The women in Iraq and Iran and most middle east countries need this kind of attention. Feminists need to go there and help these women. All the good feminist work was done in the 60's all that is left to do is nit pick everything.

This is a pose that is very common in this sport. Would all the feminists rather have no attention paid to women athletes? Actually you probably would, so then you could have something to gripe about.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:42pm EST

NEsurfer says:

Most of these rebuttals are not filled with hatred, just frustration in their tone. It comes with the territory of having an opinion and a forum that puts you in a position to have your opinion discussed, so no crying foul when people chime in with emotion. What are you looking for, a golf clap? i think Dr. Nicole has tougher skin than that, anyway.
YES, it's true, women are objectified. Women in sports are objectified and there are examples of it. But, this is NOT one of those cases. End of story.
AnnGaff, you are not in a "provocative pose" in your thumbnail photo, but one can tell you are attractive. Why did you choose to go with a photo that makes you look like you just stepped out of a salon instead of one that puts you in a more athletic "in the moment" photo with sweat and grit? Because YOU ARE ATTRACTIVE and you are proud of your beauty and fitness. No one will fault you for that. But, what if someone did and wrote an opinion piece on it? Would you think they were grasping at straws? Yes, they would be, same as this opinion piece and people would react in a similar "give me a break" / frustrated fashion.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:56pm EST

LisaSkiracer says:

You are ignorant about ski racing and unqualified to criticize a simple tuck position as being a "sexualized pose." These are your words, and they are completely inaccurate. The SI cover shows Lindsey in a proper tuck position that is second nature to us ski racers.

I invite and challenge you to find the November 1984 issue of SKI Magazine with Bill Johnson on the cover. Spread eagle and tongue out in his Sarajevo downhill suit, this cover photo needs equal time and coverage on your part. Otherwise, you'll prove yourself unfair and sexist. You've already proven yoursef "unbalanced."

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:00pm EST

LaneLetsReasonRule says:

I agree with Casper58 -- If you're going to critize an athlete fro how they are portrayed, your setting a big bullseye on yourself.

If you can't take the heat..keep your fingers off the keyboard.

It is not a 'personal' attack when we call out a comment we find 'sexist' or unreasonable as the good Dr's comment certainly was...

It is meant to show the world the ignorance of feminism. They remind me of PETA people...They are their own worst enemies.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:01pm EST

llorill says:

What saddens me is that still in the year 2010, we are so accustomed to the objectifying of women that when it stares us directly in the face we still don't "see" it. Is this the worst picture of sexual expoitation and objectification I have ever seen? No. Is it an example of the sexual objectification of women in America? Yes. The good Dr. and a number of others have already pointed out the obvious, KUDOS. So I will not reiterate.

But I too feel the intense need to address one comment made thus far. YES SI is one of the biggest offenders in the pure objectification of the female body. SI objectifies females EVERY SINGLE YEAR by photographing them in swimsuits (often times barely on, half on...) SI is not a magazine I would call a big supporter in the advancement of women's sports or the female athlete in it's truest sense.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:11pm EST

anngaff says:

NEsurfer, you touched on exactly what the question is here: When does a photo cross the provocative/sexual line? Sounds like the line is different for many people. We had similar discussions on this site about the Florida State women's basketball website, the Texas AandM women's basketball team poster and the trend of heavy makeup in softball:

Women's Hoops Media Guides and Websites Getting Sexier

Women's Basketball Guides: Lipstick, Yes, Lesbians, No

and Why must softball game prep include bronzer and eyeliner?

You can see that I draw the line in one place, the authors may draw the line in another, and I'm sure you and others reading this post would have an even different line. I think the conversation is very important, it just bothers me when people become vulgar.

Also, I want everyone to know that Dr. LaVoi was the first to come to Lindsey Vonn's defense when a commentator called her "heavy":

Vonn isn't Heavy, She's a Great Athlete

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:13pm EST

bleh says:

Wow, I'll bet she looks to the side with no helmet on and smiles (with lots of makeup and her hair flowing freely) while going downhill at 70 miles per hour. Yep, I'll bet that happens in practice all the time.
And casper exactly shows how all of these gender issues, are in fact, connected, and so commenting on the picture (or "bitching" about it as he calls it) works on just the issues he pretends to care about. Thanks.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:23pm EST

jaymeegabriel says:

The cover was done very subliminally. See how the words are 'stacked' on top of each other:
Best Woman
Skier ever.

Now read DOWN from the A in America's......Ass. Coincidental? hardly. Subliminal.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:29pm EST

Adam S says:

You clearly need to stop reading so deep into a simple picture. For starters SI is a profit-maximizing magazine and if they had more women on the cover their profits would fall. The fan base/audience and subscriber list are dominated by men. If you consider the pool of athletes available for the cover of SI (all professional athletes in the US) how many of them are men and how many of them are women? Obviously the answer is the majority are men and therefore they will grace the cover more often. As for the pose %u2013 it is not sexual at all. And why are you trying to take away what Vonn has accomplished on the basis of her attractiveness. She is the best at what she does, the fact that you may think she is attractive is irrelevant. You may have had a point if she wasn%u2019t the best and still was chosen for the cover but you have no case in this situation. She is simply in a common ski racing position. She%u2019s not in an action photo because she wouldn%u2019t be recognizable and they are clearly trying to promote one of her biggest events of her career. I think they are doing something great for Lindsey and her future career. They put her in a pose closest to an action photo that you can get while still being able show her face and make her recognizable. I would understand what you are trying to say here if she were in a more common modeling pose, a half unzipped speed-suit, or wearing less (like a semi revealing shirt or something like a Lang Boots girl for example: http://lange2009.freeskier.com/). I%u2019ve seen some of Lindsey Vonn%u2019s other promotional shoots and this photo is so far from sexual when comparing past shoots with her posing with windblown hair and etc %u2013 always classy though Lindsey. Vonn earned this cover and good for her for getting her face out there so people recognize her and her accomplishments. Also good for her for not posing in a sexual way when many people would agree she is an attractive girl who could pose in a very sexual way. It%u2019s different when there is an action shot of Lebron James dunking in the NBA since someone like him is extremely well known in the sports world and his face is plastered all over advertisements nation-wide. Lindsey does not have as ample opportunities to get her face out to the audience and she and SI are capitalizing on one here. Congratulations to Lindsey on her accomplishments and good luck in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games. Shame on you for trying to take away this accomplishment of being on the SI cover %u2013 basing it on her attractiveness and not her abilities and achievements. I mean you say she is %u201CGREAT%u201D but it is pretty obvious you are implying she received the cover for other reasons %u2013 come on.. stop reading so deeply into this picture.. It%u2019s simply a picture of a great athlete posing in a common position used often in her sport.. look at the next SI cover with Sidney Crosby where he is also in a common hockey position without his helmet on (just like Lindsey %u2013 a point you used against her).. check it out here and rethink your comments.. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/cover/featured/11383/index.htm

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:34pm EST

jrollo26 says:

I think you guys need to get a life and quit being jealous of a successful women.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:01pm EST

robm says:

Three things AnnGaff touched on need to be emphasized. First, not all WTS contributors agree on this topic, and I'm fairly certain Ann has her own views apart from Dr. LaVoi's, or mine for that matter (which I've already given). Second, you will find no better friend to female athletes than Dr. LaVoi (Nicole). I often disagree with her, but my sense is that her heart is generally in the right place. Third and last, it's important to maintain the distinction between civilized discussion and drivel. Nearly all the comments I've read fit the former. But comments crude, ad hominem, or prankish should, in my view, be deleted by a moderator.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:05pm EST

casper58 says:

still just reading other posts blows me away! A few are commenting on what I wrote and dont get it. She put women in the spotlight based on her abilities not her looks. It was her TALENT that got her in the games. She chose to be on the cover of SI. You should be happy for her, im sure she is going to make alot of money for that. AGAIN i will say I think all the focus that women have on things like this should shift. Sign up for a ride along with your local EMS or PD , and when you see a young woman beaten, naked, and wadded in ball after being raped. Or when you see the wife with a pen ramed into her throat with black eyes, it might be easy for you to see what I mean. Look up the stats on spousal abuse and rape how many women are victims EVERY DAY!!! Where is the freakin outcry!! That should be at the top of every womans blog EVERYDAY!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:07pm EST

saucy78 says:

Fyi, there is women's full-contact football (not the lingerie league either), women's baseball, women's hockey, and women's basketball. It seems we just don't get the credit we deserve when it comes to male-dominated sports. I applaud any female making the cover of SI who is clothed, no matter the sport or "pose". I think she looks beautiful. Kudos!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:10pm EST

casper58 says:

So in other words to sum it up. By makeing a big deal of this cover you take away from her success and abandon the women who need you help. And dont just read this one post read my others.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:15pm EST

fatherhood01 says:

As a father of a little girl, and as a athelte myself, I see nothing wrong with this cover. Some common sense has to be used here. The down hill ski postion is used of because of who she is and the helmet is off so that folks that dont follow this sport can identify and see who SI is covering. I have the utmost respect for organizations to protect the image and rights of woman. I loose that respect when it fails to be consistant because of political or marketing reasons. This is something that I will have to instill in my daughter as she grows up. Rule one... use common sence

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:23pm EST

anngaff says:

FYI - all users posting a vulgar and personal insult about the author will be banned. Two users have been banned for this reason so far.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:39pm EST

JohnEnglish says:

I don't remember any complaining when A.J. Kit was featured in a similiar pose on the cover of SI in 1992 for a cover story about the winter olympics.


She's a downhill skier, how else are you supposed to photograph her?

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:45pm EST

Joe? says:

Well, this did it for me. I will no longer buy SI and will not watch the Olympics because skiing objectifies women. Ice skating is out. And curling! No curling because the female curlers and sweepers crouch down next to the ice. My biggest takeaway from this article? The female form is ugly and should not be looked at from the neck down. I like burqas. Veil this crass American society! Down with thongs and blue jeans. Up with Puritanical dress and leave everything to the imagination! Let's now focus on male photography and how that objectifies men. NBA- no shorts. Football- loose fitting uniforms. Sand volleyball- full length pants and long sleeved shirts. No bending over in any sport activity! Feminists unite! On to the next movement please. When will you stand up for men?

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:48pm EST

malikg says:

Vonn's cover was not an action shot, but neither was it a beefcake or full-on glamour shot. It's something SI has done for many years for their "preview" issues -- it has an athlete posing in uniform to promote their sport.

Another example would be LeBron James when he was called The Chosen One on the cover (the photo was created with him with basketballs using a trampoline, I believe).

I most certainly didn't find that sexist or sexualized beyond the fact that the athletic form is to some extent sexual in nature simply because it is the highest form of the human body, male or female.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:50pm EST

thorandlisa says:

I am confused about something. Aren't Men and Women supposed to be attracted to each other? Also, aren't researchers supposed to remain objective? As Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi is the Associate director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sports, is'nt she supposed to research not give her opinion? This effectively taints the research on Girls and Women in Sports. If she wanted to give her opinion on the matter she needs to remove herself as a researcher on the subject as she has already formed an opinion and summary. Questions that make you go hummmmm.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 2:53pm EST

vistamalts says:

I just find it hard to believe that a website that is promoting women and sports isn't enthusiastic that a women athelete is highlighted on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Any man, women or child athelete dreams of one day making the cover of SI. What amazes me even more is once I follow the link to this site, the first advertisement I see is "Date Hot Women" clearly a sexual reference to women. Oh how hypocritical some people can be.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 3:04pm EST

LaneLetsReasonRule says:

Ok, I am a U of M grad and have three girls; 24, 17 and 15. First, I would have NO PROBLEM sending them to Dr Nicole LaVoi for kinesiology. And, it may happen as my youngest is a possible world class soccer player (9th grade varsity goalie now).

I was an activist in the early 1970's FOR the Equal Rights Amendment. We fell short of the goal of a constitutional amendment, but the point(s) were strongly made and the effect has never been lost.

What Dr Nicole LaVoi wrote was CLEARLY biased and sexist. Just the very thing she and feminists claim to be against.

All three of my girls are smart, athletic and non-biased toward all. Not one would claim to be a feminist because of what the movement has become.

So--the fact-of-the-matter is the feminists have a serious blind spot and have NO DESIRE TO SEE. If they did they would realize making an negative statement about the cover of SI with the skier in a tuck position with makeup and hair flowing is no different than acting a part in a play (on or off screen).

We have important issues of the day to deal with and the good Dr chooses to pontificate about this NON-factor (once again I agree with the Casper58 individual).

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 3:06pm EST

PhilB says:

Let me deconstruct your last post, Dr. LaVoi:

1) %u201CI have to disagree that this is an action shot%u201D %u2013 Of course not. It is a portrait of a downhill skier. A posed portrait.

2) %u201Cin an attempt to stimulate what actual skiing would look like%u201D %u2013 Really? There are plenty of examples of posed dribbling, hitting, catching and other athletic endeavors and it is never confused with live-action. This is no exception %u2013 S.I. is not trying to fool anyone into thinking she is ON the slope and zooming downhill.

3) %u201CPicture a male racer%u2026..how would you react to that picture?%u201D %u2013 Like it was a sports illustrated cover. If the downhill skier was a man, one with a charming face and nice smile, and they put him in this pose I would think nothing of it (if a basketball player was in that pose I might wonder). It doesn%u2019t suggest anything sexual %u2013 it would simply illustrate that the guy is a downhill skier. And, yes, this is the recognizable pose of a downhill skier.

4) You talk of the pose, but again I stress the pose is appropriate because she is a downhill skier. Now, if the skier was homely in the face, I agree they may have done something different will her head angle %u2013 maybe a straight forward and determined look instead of a nice smile, but the pose could very well have been the same.

5) I%u2019ll admit it %u2013 S.I. is a magazine for sports nuts %u2013 and the majority of them are guys. So a pretty face helps draw attention. But let%u2019s also admit something %u2013 women like looking at pretty faces just as much as men do. Why are the %u201Cfaces%u201D of make-up advertising attractive? Because studies show women like looking at attractive women%u2019s faces, too. Even plus-sized models have attractive faces.

Bottom line: there is nothing unusual, provocative or exploitative in this portrait.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 3:48pm EST

pirogue says:

Much ado about NOTHING. Grow thicker skin.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 4:04pm EST

Joe? says:

Dr. LaVoi said, "I appreciate everyone's willingness to share their opinions.You can see more comments on this blog post at my blog homepage http://nicolemlavoi.com/2010/02/02/vonn-watch/"

Oh I get it now! Self promotion! Say something to stir controversy and sit back to reap the reward. Where once I did not know even your name- now I know name, website and a portion of your vitae! And now, so does the rest of the reading public that happened upon this overtly silly point of view.

Brilliant Dr. Simply brlliant!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 5:55pm EST

ambivalentacademic says:

I think that one of the glaring differences between those two covers is that the male skier is depicted um, actually skiing. He's not in tuck, sure, but there are other positions required to keep one's balance going down the hill at speed. He's wearing his helmet and goggles and looking downhill, because he's you know, actually skiing in that image.

The female skier is posed. And posed in a sexualized manner. If her appeal were solely as an athlete, couldn't they depict her also *actually* skiing (the NYT managed to pull some shots of her ripping up the slopes as bikemonkey pointed out), or at the very least wearing her helmet and goggles and in a natural unexaggerated stance? Is there some SI rule against showing female athlete action shots on the cover? The [edited] pose is even further accentuated by image manipulation. They clearly took a photo of her in a real tuck on flat ground (notice that her hair does not hang on the vertical) then tilted it to stick her ass in the air. Of course, skiers do ski downhill, and the tuck does sometimes result with ones ass in the air, so I suppose one could hide behind the excuse that it would look stupid to picture her in tuck on flat ground, but the angle does seem to place her [edited] in a pretty "opportune" position for sexual fantasies.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 6:35pm EST

aldente says:

I'm sorry but how is that a sexualized image? She is in the tuck position which ski racers use. Her ski suit is tight because that's the way they are, you don't want a bunch of material flapping and creating drag. She is shapely because she is a young athlete. She's looking at the camera. Huh?

Are you sure you don't have a problem with the fact she

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:32pm EST

aldente says:

Why don't you see it as a functional pose, which it is? Why don't you see it as an artistic pose which it is?
You see her the way you do because of your hysterical frame of reference. You are projecting onto others what you don't understand in yourself.
Sports are a celebration of the human potential and physical function. Bodies bend, stretch, flex, gasp, roar. Did you know the glutes are the largest and most powerful muscles in the body? Butts are thrust out sometimes. Ever watch weightlifting? Is it sexist because people in skin tight lifting suits end up squatting sweating and straining under tremendous weight with their butt thurst out and legs spread as far as they will go? What about bobsled. Those huge muscular thighs, those tight spandex suits. Did you see that gal's suit split at the butt in training while she was flexing her thighs and glutes? Sexy? Hardly. I laughed MY butt off! You could find just as many poses of men that show their butts and claim SEXISM!
Remember, women had to fight for the right to be in sports. To dress as function dictates. So you can't show certain poses now? We are going back to the age of prohibition, when women played tennis in long dresses, before women had the vote?
Maybe she should get a burka!
I'm a straight man and when I looked at the picture I didn't find it sexual at all. It's steep, scary and snowy. Those sharp ski poles jutting out behind her and that suit don't exactly make me want to try and jump in there.
The image to me suggests speed, someone who is young, talented, successful, strong, couragous. She also happens to be beautiful. This is a crime? Perhaps you'd be happier if she had a face to make children cry and all her hair had fallen out.
If you want to see sexualized poses I could suggest a lot of media devoted to just that, men and women. Not Sports Illustrated.
Let's drop the hysteria people. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 12:07am EST

jazzrules says:

Good grief. This so-called controversy reminds me of the old joke. A guy is shown a bunch of Rorschach inkblots by his psychiatrist and asked what it reminds him of. In each case, he says Sex. His shrink suggests that the guy must have sex on the brain all the time. The guy says, they are YOUR dirty pictures. There is so much focus on sex by the media, but also by all the worry warts, that everybody sees sex everywhere, including, and possibly especially over-zealous do-gooders, whether coming from a religious conservative position or a feminist liberal position. The fact that a picture this innocuous is even being brought up highlights the fact that sexuality as in issue is being micro-analysed to the point of mania. This only serves to trivialize the issue in general, and wastes time, space, thought and energy, which could be put to better use, such as on truly serious issues, such as child exploitation.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 12:28am EST

bohamilton says:

I showed the cover to my wife, a chemical engineer and all-around sharp cookie, and asked her what she thought of it. She said it was "Pretty cool" and then attempted to go back to her Internet browsing. Not so fast! I asked her, "Do you think the cover is sexist in any way?"
She looked at me like I had asked if she might like to have lunch on the moon tomorrow. "No. Why?" she asked. I went on to explain that it had been posited by a learned lady that Ms. Vonn was being objectified and sexualized in the photo. She asked how that was the case. As best as I could, I summarized the talking points of the article by Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi .
My wife's response: "If they took a picture of her flying down the slope she'd be a blur. Even if the photographer got some good shots, you wouldn't be able to see her face or anything because of her helmet and goggles. It's the same with racecar drivers; they usually shoot them with their helmets off so we can see their faces."
She went on to talk about how many athletes play a sport where we can see their faces all the time and those athletes often enjoy wider recognition from the general public and improved marketing opportunities. Further, she pointed out a fact which had not occurred to me: SI and other sports mags commonly include in their articles pics of football players with their helmets off, along with the action shots. I told you she%u2019s smart!
We both agreed that the cover in question shows a skier in a racing position in a staged shot. It is clear that Ms. Vonn is having fun with the cover and I believe that is exactly the spirit the composers of the shot were trying to convey. Where Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi sees objectification, I see a stunning photo that celebrates the power and elegance of the athletic body Ms. Vonn has spent thousands of hours refining for the purpose of getting into an aerodynamic tuck and sailing headlong down impossibly steep mountains at speeds that would strike paralyzing fear in the hearts of most people on the planet, myself included. It has been my experience that seeing athletes standing still sometimes allows us to fully appreciate and take in all the remarkable aspects of their physique, an essential tool of their trade; Ms. Vonn%u2019s photo is no exception.
I'm very happy to see SI recognize a female athlete in a sport that is not part of the mainstream sports viewing public's typical consumption. I hope seeing her cover and reading the article about her causes more people to tune in to the Olympics to see her perform. She is a phenomenal athlete and deserves to be recognized and revered as such - part of that involves engaging the unknowing public in a forum with which they are familiar so that they might be introduced to a new athlete to follow and cheer on to victory.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 4:29am EST

Road Warrior says:

As an expert in subliminal advertising, I can tell you that the placement of the photo on the cover with respect to the SI masthead was no coincidence. The bottom of the letter "u" curving where it is was done to subliminally suggest anal sex to SI's mostly male readership.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 8:55am EST

NEsurfer says:

OK - in case you are keeping score, there are TWO people defending Dr.Nicole's point, one other in the middle of the argument, and another one happens to be affiliated to this website, too (and isn't defending dr nicole's point, just her right to speak it in order to help her colleague save face) AND about FORTY who think that Dr. Nicole is wrong not just in her opinion, but in her apparent self-promotion efforts (which seem to have back-fired not only for her, but for this website which i THOUGHT would be a place to find intelligent women speaking intelligently about sports).
So, yes, it is ok to have an opinion, but in this case the people have spoken and that opinion is DEAD WRONG.
You want my opinion? Dr. Nicole, how about you write an apology article to: the intelligent people who read this forum and may never come back, the other writers who have to come to your defense in order to not have this fall in on them like a house of cards, and women like Lindsey Vonn who have brought themselves to the pinnacle of their sport and you have attempted to blow-off their accomplishments by focusing on nonsense.
At this point, your credibility is nil.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 9:33am EST

bing says:

"Touched a nerve"? Have you ever, Dr. LaVoi. Well done! Your analysis is spot-on, and the ire and invective - and the predictable personal attacks - you've gotten in response prove the point. The accusations of NEsurfer above are especially annoying ... just because you've pissed off a lot of males-in-denial does NOT make your opinion "dead wrong"- If anything, it proves your point exactly.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 2:59pm EST

NEsurfer says:

Check the stats "bing", talk about being predictable, you assume that all the objectives are from men, but the overwhelming people who chimed in here and agree that Dr. Nicole is wrong are WOMEN. I just happen to support THOSE women. They are the strong women, the ones who have self asteem and see how self-serving the good dr's "opinion piece" is, besides her being disgusted at her attempts at actually making Lindsey Vonn look like a woman who is being manipulated rather than an incredible athlete. Why are there no comments on the article on this website, btw? Because you DIDN'T READ IT! you only saw a photo and an opportunity to tear down another female and put yourselves at the forefront with nonsense. You are the problem, not the solution.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 3:22pm EST

FSMITH says:

Perhaps instead of arguing Lindsey Von's appearance on the cover of SI, you should be discussing Lindsey Van's non-appearance whatsoever in the Olympic Games. Who is Lindsey Van, you ask? Lindsey Van is the reigning Women's World Champion in ski jumping. Why, then you ask is she not appearing in the Olympic Games? Well, that would be because she is a woman - and of ALL the Olympic sports, summer and winter ski jumping (and by extension, Nordic Combined) is the ONLY ONE in which there is no opportunity for women to compete.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 11:35pm EST

wednesday64 says:

Bohamilton, you and your wife are talking nonsense. In fact, there was a perfectly fine, non-blurry action shot of Vonn *inside the same damn issue*, and there are lots of action shots of skiiers and athletes in general out there. That's what sports photographers *DO*. Here's one example of an action shot of Lindsey: http://www.victoriaskisport.co.nz/images/VonnLindsey004large.jpg

As for the helmet issue, there's a similar cover of a male skiier from Jan 1992 (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/cover/featured/9313/index.htm), with a few key differences. Not only is AJ Kitt wearing a helmet, but he's also looking away from the camera. By your wife's logic, the action shot of Lindsey I linked to would make a far better cover than the '92 Kitt cover since the face is much more visible. So why do we need a fake image of her all dolled up, flirting with the camera, ass in the air? The action shots convey her athleticism much better -- but they don't give off quite the same 'sexy lady' vibe.

Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 1:36am EST

wednesday64 says:

As to all the people talking about the "score", your homework for tomorrow is to look up the phrase "bandwagon fallacy". Those of you arguing that a woman's opinion is objective truth, even if her arguments are backed up by nonsense or nothing at all, your phrases of the day are "appeal to authority" and "red herring". Not only can you *not* use an 'expert opinion' as an argument in itself, equating womanhood with being an expert on sexism is just ridiculous.

Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 1:46am EST

lightcraft says:

SI is in the business of selling magazines, mostly to men. The skiing star right now happens to also be attractive. Of course they're going to show her in a way that ALSO shows that she's attractive. Why not?

The harsh reality is the fact that people are driven by looks... they respond differently to people of varying looks... it's human.

If your goal is to sell more magazines, what can you do?

Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 3:41am EST

sportsfan926 says:

You are all completely delusional. She is sexualized and you all not only allow it, you condone it as a way to sell magazines. Shame on you all. If she's a great skier on her merit, her beauty and her ass shouldn't come up at all.

Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 8:22am EST

abellora says:

Ms Vonn is even more graceful and sexy when she's flying down the slopes. Check it out. I don't think the SI cover does her much justice. I watch alpine skiing every day. It's a very exciting and sexy sport. If you can't handle the side of someone's bottom, I don't know, maybe you need to get out more. That's someone%u2019s SIDE you're lookin-at there. My God and you're ALL-up-in-there...Scary. Shame on you for seeing her as a side-of-beef and not a beautiful, graceful athlete she is. Also, Subliminal Man's "U" theory is...Yoo-hoo!

Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 12:02pm EST

Former elite gymnast says:

The good doctor is absolutely correct in her opinion.

I would bet good money that Vonn was posed on a flat surface, not an incline, and that the photo was rotated to achieve the angle of her ass way up in the air, and positioned to be absolutely the first thing a reader's eye lands on - her face is completely secondary to the shot, not to mention helmet-less (so much for an "action shot"), made up, hair styled and flowing, and wearing a sweet, non-threatening smile.

It's disappointing but not at all surprising that there are not just men but women defending this obvious type of objectification - sad that they can't even fathom that it occurs in such insidious ways. I think that's what's most upsetting to me.

Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 2:31pm EST

jschonb says:

As this thread winds down, I want to thank everybody - both longtime readers and new visitors, for weighing in with their opinions. As a point of clarification, WomenTalkSports.com isn't judging SI or the cover. The site publishes posts by a wide range of writers with varying points of view and serves as a forum for all topics related to women and sport.

Personally, I believe there's nothing wrong with being athletic and beautiful and Vonn is certainly both. While some commenters may have missed Dr. LaVoi's point that female athletes should be represented in the media in the same manner as their male counterparts, there's no question that Vonn's presence on the cover of SI is a good thing for women's sports. She personifies attributes that most of us can only dream about and is a role model on a myriad of levels.

Part of the joy of being a female athlete is having a fit body, along with grace and elegance, and Vonn kicks *ss on the slopes as well. I think it's safe to say one can be beautiful without being a sex object, and whether or not you agree with SI's choice of the pose on their cover photo, I encourage everyone to embrace the integrity and brilliance of female athletes such as Vonn and cheer her on as she goes for gold in Vancouver.

Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 4:37pm EST

Title9 says:

Open the cover of that same sports illustrated and what do you see or page 47? Don't say it's only women because it clearly isn't. She is wearing what ski racers wear, I'm sure you don't have the same objection to pictures of Michael Phelps in his swimsuit do you? That being said I don't think that picture objectifies Lindsey all and by the way most men know why women watch men's football, basketball and baseball so your alleged objectification isn't just a men's thing.

If I where such an advocate for women's sports I'd be happy to have a woman on the cover at all, afterall women's sports are wayyyyyy less popular than men's. Look at the 2008 WNBA attendance an average of 8,039 which is about half of the average attendance plus the WNBA has only 13 teams to the NBA's 30.

Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 8:08pm EST

LaneLetsReasonRule says:

Well Jane, I don't think we missed Dr =LaVoi's point at all. Most just disagree with it. She is seeing things that just don't exist. THAT is a fundumental flaw in femenism today.

So, we will continue to agree to disagree and I say UP with women. And DOWN with feminism if they continue to make something out of nothing.

I would say I do like your site for the most part and have linked up my three young ladies to it. They are more conservative than Attilla the Hun and still Pro Women -- Just like their Mom and Dad.

Monday, February 8, 2010 at 2:25pm EST

Shaniqua_XL says:

I am an average good looking lesbian and I do get jealous when hot, sexy and skinny bitches like this cunt "Lindsey" get all the attention for sticking their butt out on a magazine cover. All I ever get is a holla from my gurls at the lezi bagel place. I love their bagels, but I know exactly how Miss Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi feels. I stand by you Dr. gurl. You tell that bitch to tuck that ass in and stop skanking around making a bad image for women all over the world.

Monday, February 8, 2010 at 4:44pm EST

foxyshadis says:

No matter how many people don't like it, attractive people _attract_. They sell things, they're all over the media, and no amount of complaining will remove them or their attractiveness. Given that most attractive people have put in the effort to get and stay that way, it's not like we're celebrating a completely random gene trait. It's just one of the dozens of traits in people that we should be celebrating - as this cover points out, attractiveness, skill, determination, strength, and "all-american"-ness. Objectification is when only one trait is focused on, something I don't see here at all.

It should be celebrated when SI prints something as unobjectifying as this; a backlash would make them reconsider printing any women at all, since they're "obviously" impossible to please. Asking them to pretend there is no external being, only the personality inside - on a cover photo no less - is lunacy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 2:58pm EST

Erockavella says:

Really? Can't we ALL just get a long hmmm? If you think her pictures are that controversial? I would hate to see what you say about my blog then: http://www.greendrinksmason.blogspot.com Let's all be nice!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 4:27pm EST

LaneLetsReasonRule says:

The Dr and Jane are going to have a coronary when they see Brooklyn Decker, Andy Roddick's wife, on the cover of SI.

But, reasonable people understand there is no hope for the Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinem admirers.

As an educator myself, I see the younger generation is not following in the footsteps of the good Dr and Jane. Most young women in today's society believe more in Abigail Adams and Lindsey Vonn.

I think this thread tells the story.

We can all be thankful for that.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 7:08pm EST

LaneLetsReasonRule says:

Oh Boy, I just found out Lindsey Vonn is IN the swimsuit SI issue...hahahahaha.. Poor Dr LaVoi, Jane and Ann Graf...Well here is a snippet of the article and a link below. Well, I guess the good Dr defending Miss Vonn against her critics that called her 'fat', came to some good!

"...If you were one of the misguided few who were upset with Vonn's semi-suggestive cover pose, then these 45 swimsuit pictures are likely to fan the flames even more. Calls of objectification and sexism by the media will doubtlessly intensify. It's a tired refrain though.

Vonn isn't a good looking athlete, she's a great athlete who happens to be good looking. She's Chris Evert, not Anna Kournikova. (The latter once posed for SI, the former did not.) By the end of these Olympics there's a reasonable chance Vonn will become one of the most decorated American Winter Olympians of all time. It will have everything to do with her athletic ability and nothing to do with how attractive she is. So she looks good in a swimsuit. Why shouldn't she use that to help market herself?..."

Here is the link if you want to read the entire article.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 7:20pm EST

Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi says:

Don't worry. Vonn's appearance in the SI swimsuit issue did not go unnoticed. You'd be surprised if I didn't have something to add to the discussion, No? But you might be surprised at my contribution. Go to Vonn Watch: Part II http://nicolemlavoi.com/2010/02/09/vonn-watch-part-2/

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 9:38pm EST

HitchHiker says:

AnnGaff referenced Dr. LaVoi's coming to the "defense" of Lindsey Vonn in her article 'Vonn isn't Heavy, She's a Great Athlete.' I would just like to point out that therein lies yet another example of a gross misunderstanding of the sport of ski racing, as well as another contrived and nonexistent "controversy."

LaVoi is certainly not the only one in the media to misinterpret what Austrian women's coach Herbert Mandl said. He did NOT say Vonn was fat, overweight, or out of shape, nor was that what he meant. He simply referred to her size giving her an advantage (and such "size advantage" comments occur in men's sports QUITE frequently). It was not a personal slam to intimidate Vonn.

Instead, the coach's remark was a dim-witted excuse and a scapegoat after Vonn became a threat to his team%u2019s success. The Austrian women's team is used to dominating, and Vonn has come in and taken over. His idiotic remark was a knee-jerk response, as the man seems to have too much pride while not coping well with defeat. It was a lame attempt at justification for his team's failure by stating Vonn has a physical "advantage."

Back in my ski racing days, competitors sometimes spoke of the idea of lining their downhill suits with lead bars to go faster on the course. Would the extra weight result in a win every time? No. It might give you a minute edge, though (say, a few hundredths of a second), depending on the nature of the course and the skier.

Anyone who understands physics or ski racing knows that anything with momentum going down a hill will accelerate at a greater rate when heavier. This is why events like soap box derby races have a maximum weight limit - to prevent competitors from having a "weight advantage."

In the world of ski racing, it's always been a well-known fact that the heavier skiers are the best downhillers and super G racers. You just don't see petite racers dominating these particular events, and these were the events upon which the coach commented.

So, yes, his remark was ridiculous and out of line, but not in the context you gave it. Leave it to you and much of the media to completely misinterpret the situation because of your lack of knowledge.

The really sad part, though, is that those who misconstrue and then report these situations are obviously obsessed with body image so much so that huge ado is made of nothing. This backfires to the point that too much attention is brought to it, it's presented as far too important, and those of you who *think* you're doing us women a favor are actually shooting us all in the foot. Let's talk about things that actually matter.

How does this all relate to the current blog? Your accusation that Vonn is in a "sexualized pose" is erroneous as well, once again due to ignorance about the sport.

Your site is called "Women Talk Sports." If you want to "talk sports" accurately, then hire someone who actually knows about the sport on which she's blogging! Please, I beg of you, make no more comments on ski racing or ski racers here unless it's from someone who actually knows what she's talking about.

If anything good is to come of these ludicrous discussions, hopefully the result will be increased awareness of a sport that few understand.

Ah, yes, Lindsey is now in the SI swimsuit issue! Now you'll *really* have something to rant about. Go Lindsey! Chicks rule.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 12:39am EST

Im A Man ! says:

People need to stop thinking for others.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 2:55am EST

TypicalMan says:

An interesting fact would be the percentage of women among SI's subscribers. That fact, together with the need to sell magazines and the notorious male penchant for attraction to the female form could account for the statistics you cite.

Come to think of it, I rarely see anything other than women on the covers of InStyle, Cosmo, and other magazines my wife occasionally reads.

All this doesn't mean that I'm not still mortified every day of my life at the way we men are.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 9:30am EST

TypicalMan says:

Should have said - nothing angy or offended in my earlier post. Just a little healthy teasing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 9:35am EST

malikg says:

I'd be really interested in Dr. LaVoi and everyone's opinion of the numerous covers that SI and other sports magazines have had of men in sports garb that are posed photos.

Here is LeBron James first %u201Cposed%u201D cover, from 2002:


And another posed photo, just made in October 2009:


(Although he and Shaquille O%u2019Neal are in basketball uniforms, neither are action shots.)

What%u2019s the difference between these and Ms. Vonn%u2019s picture?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 10:00am EST

NealeA says:

The view of Vonn's rear end from the side is perhaps not quite as sexist as the view in the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2010/02/07/magazine/07Vonn-2.html).
But I'm not sure how photographers should deal with this... It is undeniable that skiers put their bottoms up in the air.
It is true that the SI cover is posed, while the NY Times picture is an action shot... Does that make the difference?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 12:37pm EST

alexamenos says:

just two comments:

1. Vonn looks smoking hot bent over like that. It's almost like the folks at SI understand that their readership really likes sports and hot women, possible in that order;
2. Complaining that SI very rarely features women is a bit like complaining that Cosmo almost never runs any good bass-fishing articles.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 4:09pm EST

crella says:

'She is not actually ON the slope skiing'

You wanted them to quadruple the cost of the shoot by trying to photograph her as she whizzed by them down a slope? Then it wouldn't 'sexualized' and you wouldn't have your knickers in a twist?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 5:05pm EST

Caulker says:

This so American to make big commentary without a clue. Vonn has the same outfit on every male or female racer wears. Her position/pose is the reality when you are coming down a slope at 70mph and have the desire to win. As a serious topic of discussion, this is absurd. How in anybody´s wildest imagination can "sexuality" enter this picture. Vonn is seen every week in this same racesuit thru the whole world cup circuit, buthen I can only image that Dr. LaVoi has never watched. But then who knows what is going on in Dr.Lavoi´s mind!!

Friday, February 12, 2010 at 9:37am EST

Oceana says:

Lindsey Vonn - "America's Best Woman Skier Ever"... Congrats Lindsey for making the SI cover! I'm a woman and don't see anything wrong with the photo of Lindsey in a tuck ski pose, in her ski gear, sans helmet. That's her sport - she's a great athlete at the top of woman's alpine ski racing and beautiful too. It's too bad there had to be negative comments and hype - I hope Lindsey doesn't believe the few negative people, she's got way more important things to think about - her health, skills and quest to medal in the Winter Olympics.
It was sad to read Dr. Lavoi's comments, but I'm glad to know she is in the minority! Jane's post on Sun.2/7 was said with grace and diplomacy on all counts.
The greater majority are happy for you regarding your athletic accomplishments, the SI cover and article about you Lindsey! You Go Girl!!

Friday, February 12, 2010 at 5:02pm EST

monkeywoman says:

I saw the Sports Illustrated with Lindsey Vonn on the cover and found nothing objectionable. The surprising thing I find is that you didn't mention the US womens' ski team cheesecake photos in the swimsuit issue. Well, I don't think it's the whole ski team, just the 'pretty' ones. That's what really is the double standard.

Monday, February 15, 2010 at 12:09am EST

Jaffer says:

Absolute feminist rubbish. If Vonn was uncomfortble with anything in this shoot, she had every right to pull out. But she did'nt. She has god-given talent and looks, and can market herself however she chooses.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 2:18am EST

yostk321 says:

I miss "SI for Women" that stopped publishing in 2003.

Friday, September 17, 2010 at 5:09pm EDT

yostk321 says:

I am a man who likes women's soccer, softball, baseball, basketball, tennis, field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse, synchronized swimming, figure skating, ice dancing.

Friday, September 17, 2010 at 5:11pm EDT

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