STATEMENT: 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: Exploiting Diversity to Sanitize Its Legacy of Sexual Objectification 

NCOSE Press Statement logo

Washington, DC –The latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue will hit stores next week. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) denounces Sports Illustrated for its legacy of sexual objectification of women and its crass exploitation of cultural diversity to sanitize its actions. Hijab and burkini model gimmicks notwithstanding, the 2019 Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue carries on in its sexist and repugnant tradition of normalizing and profiting from the sexual objectification of women.

“To say we are used to Sports Illustrated’s (SI) raw sexual exploitation and pornification of women is sad but true. But SI’s exploitation of the hijab and burkini to feign cultural relevancy shows just how far it will go to sanitize its actions,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “With its 2019 Swimsuit Issue, SI sinks to a new low in its crass exploitation of cultural diversity.”

Hawkins continued, “This year SI shrewdly peddles the idea that featuring a model lounging seductively on a beach while clothed modestly in a hijab and burkini is a celebration of diversity and women’s empowerment. Clothing a SI swimsuit model is, indeed, a novel and welcome development, but what is not, is SI’s phony brand of female empowerment. As per usual, SI’s reductionist version of ‘female empowerment’ perpetuates the message that women exist as mere props for male sexual fantasies.”

“The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues’ legacy of sexual exploitation has rightly earned it a place on the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s 2019 Dirty Dozen List. NCOSE calls on all retailers to remove it from checkout lanes. We are also especially grateful to retailers like CVS which, out of concerns about female objectification, decided last year to remove this annual publication from their checkout areas and promotional displays,” Hawkins concluded.

Since 1964 the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has sexually objectified women for sport and profit. NCOSE is asking the public to demand that companies like Target, Walgreens, and Safeway to stop profiting from blatant sexual objectification by removing the Swimsuit Issue from their stores. Patrons have a right to shop free from exposure to soft-core pornography in the checkout line.

Take Action: Concerned citizens can contact Target, Walgreens, and Safeway here.

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



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