Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I hate the swimsuit issue.

I look forward to my Triathlete and Inside Triathlon (the former being the superior mag, you ask me) being in my mailbox every month. Like in a, "oh hey, Lost is on tonight" sort of way - something that isn't precedent in my head, but then when I discover it there it's always a happy surprise. And I read them both slowly - first scanning for the highlights when I have a second here and there, later reading a few articles before bed, a few days later going back for still more. It's a fun thing for me.

Today I audibly groaned when I reached in and saw it was the stupid swimsuit edition. Like in a "ah crap, Lost is a rerun, guess I'll find something else to do" kind of way. I think the swimsuit edition (of both Triathlete and Inside Triathlon) is such a dumb, desperate, obvious ploy to sell a few more at newsstands that it sort of insults my intelligence as a triathlete.

My objections have nothing to do with the nearly naked women in swimsuits, because I rather enjoy nearly naked women in swimsuits...just, not in context of triathlon. It's nothing to do with "the objectification of women", because I've probably objectified a woman or two in my life (though, have a daughter - that'll shake your idea of things right up). None of that. I just think it's a waste of time. It's not why I subscribe to triathlon magazines. It's like having a special episode all about wildlife in this month's issue of Popular Mechanics. Who cares?

But - such is life. So there's one issue that isn't my thing. No big deal. But I think it's the ruse that compounds my irritation. First, they act like it's a gear review. This month's Editorial is about how last month they featured bikes or something, so this month is swim gear. And they think if they throw a page up with the latest goggles, they're really providing a comprehensive collection of swim-related-thoughts to the readers. Come on now. Could be I'm just missing out, but I have never - not once - seen a triathlete racing or training in a camouflage bikini. At least plainly call it what it is if you're going to do it.

Or they provide the stupid logic of "a celebration of triathletes' bodies". That's dumb. I don't need to celebrate anybody's body. If I did...um, there are more celebratory mags out there than Triathlete. Just - seriously. Give me gear reviews, race reports, training ideas. The stuff I enjoy. This month's issue of page after page first of the swimsuits (oh, by the way - I also love how they throw in the occasional trisuit, or dude in a wetsuit, to keep it real), then a whole other section about shooting the people in swimsuits - how boring.

Also annoying to me is that now we have to hear about it for the next 6 months. Now everybody with a moral ax to grind writes letters (which is another section of the mag I generally read and find interesting) canceling subscriptions for all the sluttiness they can't stand, or showering the editors with huzzahs about how fantastic it is that there's swimsuits everywhere. And then those letter-writers start arguing with each other. Everybody loses perspective, the party gets awkward, and it becomes another part of the mag that I just skip to get to the stuff that matters. (Note to inner voice who keeps chirping up that aren't I, but writing a blog post about it, just contributing to the very thing that irks me, to which I say shut it inner voice, I'm talking here.)

Finally - there's just something...silly about it. Every issue is packed with athletes in swimwear, or racing gear. If I want to look at women wearing tight-fighting or barely there swimwear, I just turn the page. But there's nothing sexual about that. And maybe that the last bit of irritation for me - it's maybe a little bit insulting. I had a friend ask me once what I thought was a really dumb question - he asked me if I checked out the girls at races. Because, y'know, we're all wearing skin-tight spandex. The answer is a huge and profound NO. That kind of thing is so far off my radar when it comes to triathlon that I don't even have conclusions about whether a certain athlete is attractive or not. I'm just not seeing it that way. Maybe others are, I don't know, but not me. Something about "checking girls out" at races or when training feels really troublesome to me. Because I know what it takes to get to the starting line. I know what it takes to work your ass off to achieve a goal, or reach that time, or just finish the race. And it's not like I ever had to have some internal conversation about it to decide note to self, not cool to check triathlete women out - but to do that would, I think, spit in the face of that athlete. I maybe take some issue that, all of the sudden for the sake of some sales, my triathlon magazines seem willing to suspend that ideal. Not that I'm holier-than-thou or something - cuz I ain't - but honestly. Is this really necessary?

But - when I came in the house and plopped the mail down on the table with these things briefly rattling around in my head, I noticed that the cover has Amanda Beard on the damn cover, who's not even a triathlete. Case closed, I guess.


Krista said...

Man, X. You are my hero today.

Erin said...

Amen, Krista.

These two were my fav points: "Something about 'checking girls out' at races or when training feels really troublesome to me. Because I know what it takes to get to the starting line."
(You will likely get much love from many, many women for this. There's just something vulnerable about putting on spandex and trying your heart out, and then to be "checked out" at that point?...troublesome for most women, I'm sure.)


"...the cover has Amanda Beard on the damn cover, who's not even a triathlete."
(What are they THINKING?)

Anonymous said...

Erin, you put it better than me, I was just going to say, that post is basically a chick magnet in itself! X's wife better watch HIM at the next race and make sure he doesn't get stealed!;-)

Humorous and thought provoking points. I do not get triathlete magazine, because my son's school does not sell subscriptions to it (I am a bit lazy about mag shopping. I just read blogs for info). But it sounds a bit cloying. Heidi

xt4 said...


dennyj said...

You're right on about the swim suit issue. What a waste of space. If they wanted to show real triathlon swimwear...maybe. But bikinis? Come on, who are they trying to kid? Give me substance.

As for checking out women at the races, I'm too focused on my preparation and insecurities about the race to be thinking about sex. I might notice a particularly attractive person but I'm quicky reminded that they probably view me as a father or even grandfather figure and I just smile to myself and go on about my business. I must admit I do spend a fair amount of time drooling over the fancy bikes and equipment, however. I might even wish I had one of those fancy speedo suits, who knows?

Deniel Hopkins said...

men will always be men....never stop drooling be it swimwear or a casual wear....so stop pretending...u got better things to do...ryt????????