The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition is ringing in its 58th anniversary with a new advertising initiative aimed at gender equity.
The “Pay With Change” mandate will only allow brands that are helping to drive gender equality forward to advertise in the magazine’s annual print issue as well as across its digital platforms.
MJ Day, editor-in-chief of the SI Swimsuit edition, told Yahoo Finance Live that the advertising mandate, which goes into effect with the magazine’s May 2022 edition, will set a new standard for publishers.
“We do believe that this will be a revolutionary kind of industry change and shift,” she said.
Brands that can illustrate they are creating change for women will be certified as a Changemaker, which Day defined as a brand that has made, is making, and will make progress for women.
“What we want to see is proof of that progress,” she said. “Any progress is good progress when you’re speaking around women empowerment.”
Day, who has been editor-in-chief of the annual issue since 2014, acknowledged that the SI Swimsuit brand has long been criticized for objectifying women and said people who call its gender equity mandate hypocritical “haven’t been paying attention.”
“I would tell them that since the inception of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, we’ve been doing more than almost any other brand out there in terms of elevating women’s platforms and giving them opportunities to be more than just, you know, a, dot dot dot, swimsuit model.”
In recent years, the magazine has featured an array of models from different ethnic backgrounds and with a range of body types. In a landmark moment last July model Leyna Bloom made history as the first transgender woman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue.
“I felt it was a great responsibility, possessing the power that this brand does, to be as inclusive and as representative as we could be,” she said. “The more good we can do with this power, and the more brands we can encourage to do the same, the better this industry and this landscape will be, not just for business but just for everyone.”
While she declined to name which brands will appear in the magazine’s May edition, Day did say the response to the new advertising initiative has been “overwhelming.”
SI Swimsuit will also invest a percentage of every ad dollar generated by the annual issue to create the Sports Illustrated Gender Equity Fund. The fund will support a yet-to-be-named nonprofit that is at the forefront of helping create an equitable future for all women.
Alexis Christoforous is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.
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