Pop Culture

Kate Upton with Video! And Why Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Still Matters

This week Sports Illustrated released its annual swimsuit issue, that annual bonanza of boobs, bikinis, beaches and body paint. With 19-year-old Florida native and possibly-the-next-Christie-Brinkley on the cover, Kate Upton, it's sure to be another best-seller. Even in an age of free porn on the Internet and Web sites like IsAnyoneUp? making nudity commonplace, this annual SI drooler still manages to make blood pressures rise across the country.

Even people from Generation Y like myself -- eew -- still manage to get into a lather of anticipation over the issue, and usually I flip through it once or three times and it ends up in my pile of magazines in the bathroom. Maybe it's the iconic idea of the swimsuit issue and the memories attached to it that keep bringing me back. Let's be honest, it's not about seeing skin anymore, it's a tradition.

I can see things that would blind my grandmother within 30 seconds of searching on the Internet that would make a few pictures of Upton in a size-nothing bikini or Marisa Miller clad in only body paint seem a Kohl's ad in the Sunday paper.


Most guys -- and maybe girls -- can remember a time when you had to hide your copy of the SI swimsuit issue from your mother or siblings in fear of it being confiscated. This was before the proliferation of the Internet, when parents probably just gave up and were more worried about their children buying painkillers or meeting a sexual predator than seeing barely concealed boobies.

Then you have someone like Upton who has been held aloft as the first "big" girl to grace the cover in ages. Yes, she's a tad thicker than the usual models we see, but she's still not average by any means. As much as some of us wish that her curves were commonplace.

Call us when someone Christina Hendricks's size makes the cover. That will be history, or history for the issue entirely. Upton has also been hailed as a '50s-style pin-up for the '10s, which we definitely agree with. But not as an "ideal." Jessica Rabbit could be labeled "ideal," too, but in reality wouldn't be able to walk with her measurements.

The issue, now running hot since 1964, has always been a respite from a frigid winter with its release in February. Cover models like Brinkley, Tyra Banks, Kathy Ireland, Elle Macpherson, Cindy Crawford, Rebecca Romijn and Cheryl Tiegs have gone on to do great things like...hosting reality shows and selling furniture.

Okay, that's mean. Romijn married Uncle Jesse from Full House and was in the X-Men movies, and Brinkley put up with Billy Joel's shit for awhile. And I always enjoy seeing Crawford hawking living room sets for Rooms To Go. It sort of reminds me that we are all growing old and that there was a time when I would sell my parents' couch to see her naked.

So does this mean that one day Upton will be married to Justin Bieber and have her own sitcom on NBC? Because I am totally cool with that.

I guess we come back to the swimsuit issue because it's a throwback to when bikinis were still sort of taboo, and the nearly-naked human form was hard to come by. It reminds us of when times were simpler, hair was taller and everyone was wearing those ugly-ass, high-waisted bikinis bottoms that you only see in Mötley Crüe videos from 1987 on YouTube.

Or, you know, you can just watch this clip and my whole argument can just go out the window...

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty