This magazine cover is hardly offensive
All too often, the athlete gets used
This is not a scandal. It should not even be a controversy.
A 20-year-old professional athlete with a jacket wrapped around her shoulders? Please. Golf Digest chose Lexi Thompson for the cover of its fitness issue (see here) because she is known as one of the strongest, fittest players on tour, a workout demon whose name came up more than once last year when LPGA players wondered why non-golfer Paulina Gretzky was put on the cover of the same magazine in a bikini top and provocative pose when there were plenty of good-looking golfers such as Thompson around.
And yes, I noticed the sideboob. We all see the sideboob. I can see it in abundance at the hotel pool in Rancho Mirage, California, site of the LPGA's first major of the year. In many cases, quite frankly, more than anyone should have to see.
The question is whether a 20-year-old should be revealing it. I can tell you this decision was all Thompson's, supported by her parents and endorsed by an agent who has known her since she was 9, considers her a daughter and thinks women's golf should celebrate the athleticism and, yes, sex appeal of players who deserve more attention than they receive.
In this case, however, Thompson's agent, Bobby Kreusler, said Thursday it was "designed to create discussion, but we never looked at it as a good way to market some sort of sex appeal. It was about the honor and privilege of being on the cover of their fitness issue. ... And at no point was Lexi even the slightest bit uncomfortable."
I texted my daughter, who -- love when this happens -- is not just in Thompson's demographic, but is the perfect test case at 19 years old and just five months younger than Thompson, who turned 20 in February.
My kid is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, a good student, volunteers at the university hospitals and does not have a side job as an exotic dancer that we know about.
And her reaction to the cover?
The text equivalent of a shrug.
"Don't see anything wrong with it," she wrote.
Smart kid, my daughter.
Breaking news: Golf Digest is using sex to sell another issue.
On the plus side, they are using an actual golfer this time. Lexi Thompson absolutely deserves a cover story in a magazine dedicated to her sport. To get there, however, they posed her without a shirt and used a jacket to cover her lady bits (see here).
The selling point? A generous helping of sideboob.
It's one thing for an athlete to take charge of her career and use her beauty to up her profile. It's been done deliberately and well by Danica Patrick, Ronda Rousey and Skylar Diggins. It's another thing for a magazine to take advantage of an athlete's sexuality to sell a few issues. I'm thinking about the way Sports Illustrated posed a young Anna Kournikova in a bathroom wearing an evening gown.
So who is the mastermind here: Thompson or Golf Digest? I'd be more inclined to issue a hearty, "You go, girl!" if Golf Digest didn't have a history of ignoring the women's game when choosing its covers and didn't stick a jutted-out Paulina Gretzky on a cover last year. You might remember that Gretzky, the beautiful daughter of NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, was engaged to a golfer.
She didn't actually play the sport professionally, but she filled out a pair of "golf tights" nicely!
So you might look at me skeptically and say, "But Jane, ESPN puts naked women in the Body Issue." And to that I counter that the Body Issue features men and women equally and focuses on the parts that make athletes great, not just the parts that make them hot.
Goodness knows no one is against leveraging looks, but I'd feel a lot better about Thompson's cover if it weren't on a magazine that has been so blind to the women in her sport who wanted be celebrated with their golf shirts on.