Sports Illustrated's 2012 Swimsuit edition comes off as pretty cocky in its introduction of its covergirl, 19-year-old model Kate Upton. The coverline blares, "KATE UPTON (ANY QUESTIONS?)" as if to ask even one would be simply delusional. Because after all, the almost nude photo of the not-a-girl, not-yet-a-woman should just speak for itself, right?
That it does. But to many of us, it speaks volumes about what's completely and utterly wrong with the representation of women -- especially teen girls -- in the media today. Kate Upton might be welcome eye candy to many a drooling American male, but the impression she's bound to make on American teen girls is anything but positive.
Upton has said that being on the cover of the Swimsuit edition was her "dream," and she's gotten attention in the past for doing the "Dougie" dance on YouTube. But there has to be more to her than that, right ...?
Sadly, the only details floating around about Upton today have to do with how comfortable she is in her bikini ("I felt sexy in it but confident") and how she's from Florida ... oh, and how that relates to her bikini ("In Florida, people walk around in their flip-flops, bikinis, and jean shorts, so I'm very comfortable in a bathing suit!"). Also, let's not forget about her workout regimen (with a personal trainer, gee, how original!), diet (she "watches what she eats" ... earth-shattering!), and the fact that she apparently "splurges on the occasional ice cream or plate of fries." She's also rumored to be in a relationship with NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez. WOW.
But hold up a sec. What are Upton's actual talents, accomplishments? Does she volunteer for charities, surf, go to college??
It's very likely that it's not Upton's fault that she's been portrayed this vapid, superficial, sex object way. Maybe it just comes with the territory of being a swimsuit cover model. But it makes my heart hurt to think of young women around the same age as Upton aspiring to be anything like the model's public image. Our daughters deserve to see women, especially their peers, in the spotlight doing more and being lauded for more than looking hot.
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Upton says for her, this is "groundbreaking." But for teen girls who are looking at the model's story and thinking that's the key to success, power, recognition, fame, fortune, it's toxic. I sure as hell hope there's an antidote to Upton ... perhaps in the form of mothers and other loved ones praising young women for their intellectual pursuits. Or other teen role models out there known for more than feeling "sexy but confident" in a teeny bikini.
What kind of message do you think someone like Kate Upton is sending our teen girls? Do you approve or not so much?
Image via Sports Illustrated