Golf Digest Using Sexual Exploitation to Increase Sales

No matter how accomplished a female golfer is in the sport, Golf Digest feels that the only way to display her merits is if they also display her body. The May 2015 shows an accomplished female athlete wearing not much more than a gym towel. This is how Golf Digest portrays women vs. men on the covers of their magazine.

Golf Digest sexualizes athletes

Lexi Thompson was the youngest golfer ever to qualify to play in the U.S. Women’s Open at the ripe age of 12 years old. She then turned professional in June 2010 at the age of 15 when she joined the Ladies Professional Golf Association, or LPGA. In 2011, at 16 years old, Thompson set a new record once again as the youngest winner of the LPGA tournament, the Navistar LPGA Classic. A few months later, she became the second youngest winner of a Ladies European Tour event when she won the Dubai Ladies Masters. In 2014, Thompson won her first major championship at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Needless to say, Lexi Thompson is an incredibly gifted golfer who, at the astonishing age of 20, is only beginning her professional career.


In Golf Digest’s May Fitness and Power Issue, Thompson dons the cover on which she is sporting not much more than a gym towel. The cover further displays the magazine’s sexual exploitation of female golfers, and female athletes in general. Yes, the issue is about Fitness and Power however, is Thompson on the cover because of her well-sculpted athletic body or because of her athletic merit that earned her the title of one of the world’s greatest golfers?


When we look at previous Fitness and Power Issues of Golf Digest, as well as their other covers, the men who don these covers have little more than their forearms showing. These men are displayed in such a way that highlights their golf talents and are not being sexualized for their bodies. This issue is not the first time for Golf Digest to sexually exploit women on their cover. The May 2014 cover issue of Golf Digest shows Paulina Gretzky, an avid yet not professional golfer, wearing only a white, skimpy sports bra and matching work out pants, flaunting her toned body in a sexualized pose using a golf club. This cover received a lot of backlash because of the sexy pose by Gretzky and the sexually explicit light the magazine portrays women.


LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement in response to the Paulina Gretzky cover that he was “disappointed” in the issue and that “if a magazine called Golf Digest is interested in showcasing females in the game, yet consistently steers away from the true superstars who’ve made history over the last few years, something is clearly wrong.” He goes to add that there is a “need for more role models and in these exciting times for women’s golf.”


Golf Digest is a magazine for golf enthusiasts and most of its articles are geared towards a male audience. The message that Golf Digest is sending only broadens the gap of inequality that women, especially women athletes, face. This magazine is using sexual exploitation of women to get attention and spike their sales.


The sexualization of female athletes is unfortunately all over the media and in magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Shape Magazine, however in a magazine who’s audience is geared towards men, the magazine should be highlighting Lexi Thompson’s incredible golf skills and not her naked body.

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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