This year’s Sports Illustrated‘s much-anticipated swimsuit issue hit the stands today, featuring 19-year-old model Kate Upton on the cover in a very itsy-bitsy red string bikini with a bottom piece that, literally, appears to be little more than a string. While most people are going crazy over her cover look, we’re more than a little delighted to see professional female athletes represented in here, too.
The magazine’s editor, M.J. Daly, thinks models like Upton are important, saying she “embodies the sophistication and sexiness” called for in the highly popular issue that is seen by some 70 million readers (or should we say, gawkers?). Say what you will of his statement, but his choice to feature a variety of body types—including athletes—is what we’re really excited about.
Olympic swimmer and gold medalist Natalie Coughlin, LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis and soccer star Alex Morgan, who plays for the women’s U.S. soccer team, all posed nude for this issue with nothing more than some carefully applied bodypaint.
Coughlin said she was excited to be featured in Sports Illustrated and was “mesmorized” by the whole bodypainting process which took 12 hours to apply:
It feels like something in between a swimsuit — and being naked.
She went on to say:
I wasn’t really nervous about that aspect of it at all. I was just so honored that they thought of me. It’s awesome to be able to say I have done a Swimsuit Issue. When I’m old and wrinkly and out of shape, I’ll be very, very proud of that.
It’s refreshing to see female athletes in this issue, showing off their strong, muscular bodies. This gives so many more women positive role models and let’s people know that female athletes are sexy. Coughlin agrees:
As beautiful as the supermodels are, I think it’s great to have different types of bodies. To have an athletic body in SI Swimsuit Issue, I think, is really important. SI is a sports magazine in the first place. So it’s nice to have balance between models and athletes.
We much prefer seeing the female athletes in here. They embody strength, beauty and health. And they let the world know that being fit and muscular is sexy.