Sports Illustrated’s most controversial swimsuit covers

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There was a time when the most controversial thing a model could do on the cover of a sports illustrated The problem with the bathing suit was wearing something too daring.

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But these days, the models themselves cause controversy.

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The latest is German transgender pop star Kim Petras.

Her 2023 cover sparked outrage from readers, who thought it was a cruel joke, and some even compared it to Bud Light’s partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Others criticized the decision to include Petras in an issue that has showcased female beauty in the past.


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“It’s a form of rape,” complained one reader. “The goal is to get straight men to create sexual desire for other men… if you don’t like it, you’re the bad guy.”

However, others supported the singer, calling her “gorgeous, sexy, super curvy.”

Either way, it’s something to talk about.

Here are some other notable covers that have caused quite a stir.

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Cheryl Tiegs

Tiegs appeared on the cover of the swimsuit issue three times in the ’70s and ’80s and was widely considered America’s first supermodel. One of the most controversial photos to appear in the published magazine was from 1978 and showed Tiegs in a fishnet one-piece suit that showed off her nipples. It was said at the time that the photo was a “disposable photo” and “not for publication,” but it was released anyway. gasp!

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Ashley Graham

Graham is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful women in the modeling industry, but her size caused some people to reconsider her cover. While she serves as an inspiration to many, Tiegs wasn’t one of them, and said so during a 2016 interview Graham’s SI freshman year: “I don’t like that we’re talking about full-figured women because it glorifies them… I don’t think that’s healthy.”

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Yumi Nu

Graham, who also appeared on SI swimsuit covers in 2017 and 2018, paved the way for other plus-size models, including Nu in 2022. However, for many, size still mattered, including author Jordan Peterson, who described Nu as “not pretty”. However, that tweet forced Peterson to leave Twitter after being bombarded with an “endless barrage of vicious insults.”

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Halima Aden

Aden, a Somali-American model, graced the 2019 cover in a hijab and burkini — a big deal to some, while others, who wanted to see skin, skin and more skin, got furious. Her shoot was a far cry from the usual half-naked women who collect sand in places where nobody wants sand. Given all she’s overcome, the Somali-American model shrugged off criticism.

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Hannah Davis

Davis’ 2015 cover shocked many – for better and for worse – as she posed with her thumbs hooking her bikini bottoms so they were dangerously low. The Washington Post Questions about the cover being “too low” were branded “inappropriate” and “pornographic” by many, and the model was accused of being too sexy. Does something like this actually exist?

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