In my free time I run a blog with my mom called Nitty Gritty Love. My brother was recently out for the day with my dad, and came home upset after seeing the most recent Sports Illustrated cover. My mom and I told him that writing is a great way to express your opinion, and encouraged him to write down his thoughts. The original article has been shared over 90,000 times!
Here's what he wrote:
Dear Sports Illustrated Magazine,
I am writing this letter because I am confused. Yesterday, I was at the mall with my dad because he needed to run some errands. We were having a fun time together. We bought some donuts and hot cocoa and were really enjoying our day. As we walked past a magazine stand, I saw your swimsuit issue. It took up more than one slot, and was right in middle of the other magazines.
I was shocked. I didn’t want to even see it, but it was right in front of me. There on the cover, was a lady in a two piece swimsuit. She was pulling down the bottom of her swimsuit and was almost showing her private parts. (And I do believe they should be private parts.)
I think this is harmful for children to see. My parents are careful about these types of things at home because they want to protect us. I wasn’t prepared to see this and felt like it was forced in my face. I know America stands for freedom and this is why you were allowed to put that lady on your cover, but why are you allowed to take away my freedom by forcing me to look at it?
I have been taught to respect women. I even wrote a speech for school that encourages boys of my generation to be gentlemen. How are we supposed to treat women with respect when we grow up seeing them degraded? When boys see women acting this way on TV, magazines, and movies, it makes us think it is normal to view them as just images. I hope there are other people who will also tell you that women are not just entertainment or a way to make you a lot of money. At least they shouldn’t be.
I am mad but I am also confused. Isn’t your magazine about sports? It seems to me you are just seeing how much you can get away with, like a rebellious teenage kid. I play soccer and love sports. How is being half naked a sport? My dad once called you because he wanted to order your magazine but didn’t want the swimsuit issue. He didn’t want us kids having to see it if we checked the mail. You told him that just wasn’t allowed, so he didn’t order it at all. I’m glad my dad stood up to you. Maybe other Dads don’t want this in their home either.
Kids shouldn’t have to ask adults to protect them. Adults should already know how to do this. You either don’t know this, or you don’t care. I may just be a kid, but I know I speak for many voices. I would like an apology from you. If you can’t do that, could you at least think of children in the future, before you print your magazine covers? We are more important than making money.
I went to the mall that day hoping to have a fun time with my Dad. I didn’t expect to have to deal with that. I bet other people feel the same way as I do. Maybe they just don’t think they can do anything about it. Or maybe they are just getting used to it. But I don’t think kids are used to this. They just want to be kids.
Maybe you are trying to keep up with our culture, and so you feel you have to create these images. But it’s an important life lesson to learn to stand up for what is right, even when nobody else does. Just because America wants these kinds of pictures, doesn’t mean you have to deliver them. You can respect women and sell magazines at the same time. And I would gladly grow up and buy Sports Illustrated, if it was really about sports.
Thank you for reading my letter,
An Eleven-Year-Old Boy
The original letter can be found over at Nitty Gritty Love.