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The Olympics have officially started, and I am very excited. I am huge Winter Olympics fan!

Lindsey Vonn, American downhill skier, posed for the cover of Sports Illustrated recently. They titled the cover story "America’s Best Woman Skier Ever." Lindsey Vonn is an amazing athlete, and if she is able to recover from her recent shin injury she may take home a lot of gold medals this year.  Vonn is also blond, young, and attractive. There is some controversy over the Sports Illustrated cover. Some say that because she is young and attractive she was put in a sexual pose, and that the intent behind putting her on the cover was to highlight her sex appeal not her athleticism. Check out the picture:

At first, it looked like she was just skiing down a mountain, and her butt was pushed out because that is how skiers tuck to gain speed. This is NOT an action shot, however. Her face is smiling at the camera, she is not wearing her full uniform, and whoever posed this shot was certainly trying to make her look sexy. I do not think there is anything wrong with a woman posing in a sexy way in a magazine, if it is her choice. Vonn clearly has no problem posing and looking hot for the camera, she posed in SI Swimsuit Edition not too long ago:

She said in several interviews how much fun she had doing the shoot for SI, and kudos to her for being comfortable enough in her own skin to go to the top of a mountain in a skimpy Bikini and pose. Is she setting a positive example for others about having good self-image and being comfortable in ones own skin? Or is this picture turning Vonn, an amazing Athlete, into a sex symbol?

Research has shown that only 4% of Sports Illustrated covers feature women, and when they do the women are highly likely to be in sexual poses. Of all the pictures of Vonn that could have made the cover, why this one? I also think that men are somewhat objectified in SI covers, they are almost always flexing, trying to look intimidating, and it sets an unrealistic image of masculinity. If women were on the cover of sports magazines all the time in a variety of poses, then this particular picture wouldn’t be so egregious. It’s the fact that SI ONLY puts sexy, skinny attractive women on the cover that makes me think twice about this.  

What do you think? What are the messages being conveyed by the SI cover? Hopefully we can all agree that in the end we want to see Vonn on the podium, with the gold, standing upright.