Sports Illustrated model responds to backlash: 'I can be in a swimsuit and feel sexy'

Lauren Tuck
·News Editor

Despite the criticism the Sports Illustrated swim issue has recently received, the magazine’s cover star believes it’s the “perfect” time for the annual publication to come out. “I can be in a swimsuit and feel sexy and feel empowered,” Danielle Harrington said during an interview in AOL’s Build Series on Thursday. “I feel like all the girls in the world — anybody — should be able to express themselves the way that they want to and still be respected for it.”

As for Brenna Huckaby, the first amputee to be featured in the pages of the magazine, she has similar beliefs when it comes to posing in a bikini. The Paralympian recognizes that because she was in the photo shoot that doesn’t make her achievements any bigger or smaller. “Nothing has changed with me except for how I feel about myself,” the athlete, who lost her leg as a result of osteosarcoma, a type of cancer at 14, said. “And if you can’t understand that then you’re missing the whole point of Sports Illustrated swimsuit.”

Backlash to the issue has emerged mainly because many wonder if it’s appropriate to be putting out a product that’s profiting off of the male gaze at a time when #MeToo and Time’s Up are dominating the cultural conversation.

Editor MJ Day, according to a story published by the Associated Press Friday, “says that even though the issue was conceived and shot before the #MeToo movement heated up last fall, it’s about more than just women in swimsuits. Day says the magazine is ‘creating and giving platforms to these women’ and presenting them as multidimensional people.”

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