From 1964-2013, Sports Illustrated depicted countless scantily clad women on its cover. Yet, it continues to be a piece of work that is quietly accepted in the media. Every issue of Sports Illustrated does not generate controversy. Media outlets do not become inflamed with discussion concerning what message so much exposed skin sends to young girls.
Enter Nicki Minaj’s cover art for her single, “Anaconda”. Nicki is pictured on the cover dressed only in a sports bra, thong and Air Jordan 6’s. She is squatting and baring her Gluteus Maximus for all to see. This image became a topic of discussion on every social media outlet almost instantaneously. Numerous mothers expressed distaste for the message Ms. Minaj’s “blatant lack of self-respect” sent to their young daughters. Many of her “fans” disagreed with the manner in which she “said yes to the objectification of women in the media”. The discussion sparked by Nicki Minaj’s cover art raises the question, what bodies are allowed to be in charge of their bodies in the media and which ones are restricted in the ways that they are allowed to express themselves.
In Deborah C. Tolman’s article entitled “Adolescent Girl’s Sexuality” she discusses the manner in which young girls are sexualized differently based on their race. She says, “Young African American girls are portrayed as hypersexual, Asian-American girls unlock secret doors to male pleasure, and Latino girls are hot, hot, hot.” It is blaringly obvious that only colored bodies are sexualized in this way. The sexual boxes that young girls are put into at such an early age make way for society to create double standards of sexuality. It is perfectly acceptable for the Caucasian women of Sports Illustrated to dress minimally and without consequence but women of color, such as Nicki Minaj, receive backlash for the same behavior.
This begs the question, does society even realize that it operates under this double standard? Or, is it so deeply intertwined into the way America operates that it is subconsciously?