Is Sports Illustrated Illustrating Racism? You Decide

Ugh. I hate the word “racist”. I mean, I hate what goes along with it, but I also despise the word. It’s gross and it reduces a person without proper merit. Don’t get me wrong – there are times when vile, ignorant things make their way out of the pie-holes of human beings flippantly, but sometimes – and you can agree or disagree here – I feel the word “racist” is being thrown at people just because it stings most.

Sports Illustrated presented its newest edition of the Swimsuit Issue last week (huzzah, bathing suits) and like anything else, it’s receiving a backlash over claims of what I will say is officially ridiculous. The Huffington Post reports that in a shot taken in a picture taken on a river in Guilin, Guangxi, model Anne V, who is white and blonde, sits on a raft piloted by an elderly Chinese man. The photograph, to me, is beautiful. Call me ignorant, but I don’t see poverty in it, I merely see a shot of man who has stories behind his eyes and a Sport Illustrated-style model who is probably gorgeous in the eyes of its readers.

Jezebel’s Dodai Stewart has a heated response to the photograph, claiming: “This photo cements stereotypes, perpetuates an imbalance in the power dynamic, is reminiscent of centuries of colonialism (and indentured servitude) and serves as a good example of both creating a centrality of whiteness and using ‘exotic’ people as fashion props. ”

Now, you be the judge. To me, it’s a beautiful shot. Especially if understand you are looking at a magazine dedicated specifically to SWIMSUITS this time around. Come on, people. Not everything has to be so intense. If you really want to get gritty about it, you can say that aside from the Chinese man being exploited, women are just as exploited as they wear basically nothing.

NO OFFENSE, but it’s Sports Illustrated, for God’s sake. What do you want out of a publication dedicated to sports and bikinis? Educational crossword puzzles? I’m not saying the publication isn’t smart, or saying that it can do whatever it wants, it’s just… it knows its readers. Good or bad. That’s its job. If you want to advance the culture dynamic of photography for bathing suits, that is all you, but try and see the world from a perspective that isn’t insulting a culture but merely expressing art through their own eyes.

Right or wrong, they have the right to express themselves. Just like the people infuriated by the photographs have a right to express themselves. I say, take the magazine at face value and fight the good fight on something that truly matters.

Image via Shutterstock

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