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article imageWal-Mart Chastised For Publicly Displaying Sports Illustrated 2008 Swimsuit Edition

By Pamela Jean     Apr 5, 2008 in Business
Morality in Media president Bob Peters stated that it was appalling the industry giant Wal-Mart continues to display the latest SI swimsuit edition on their shelves, in clear view of children. The cover features a topless model.
This years Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition features a photo of Supermodel Marisa Miller posed provocatively in a barely there pale blue bikini bottom, her ample breasts are adorned with multiple strings of beaded necklace, her bikini top missing from the scene.
Bob Peters of Morality in Media has received calls from parents, outraged that Wal-Mart, which promotes themselves as a family friendly store, is openly displaying the magazines at the checkout counters. One such call was from a mother in North Carolina. She told Peters that while shopping at her local Wal-mart she was embarrassed when her 7 year old daughter pointed to the magazine and noted that the model on the cover was topless. The mother quickly alerted a Wal-Mart employee, who then removed the magazines from the display rack. However, she says, the next day the store manager contacted her and informed her that the magazines would continue to be displayed. Sports Illustrated pays a premium price for placement of their material in the Wal-mart stores, and would thus not be removed.
Peters argues that Wal-Mart should be more responsible. He says that one does not have to make a judgment call about whether that issue of Sports Illustrated is pornographic. "[Y]ou just look at it; if the woman or the guy doesn't have enough clothes on, you don't openly display it," Peters contends.
Peters went on to state that many state and local governments have laws governing the sale and display of items deemed harmful to minors. He also contends that this latest swimsuit edition demonstrates that many Americans are desensitized to what he says is "soft-core" porn. Out of 6,147 respondents, 95 per cent felt that Wal-Mart was not "family friendly" in displaying this magazine at the checkout counters.
A visit to the Sports Illustrated website will be perhaps a big eye opener for your average consumer. I, like most people out there, have always assumed that Sports Illustrated was filled with articles about baseball stats, football player reviews and discussion revolving around coaches, players and teams. Apparently I am behind the times, as the site I visited featured a myriad of "super models" in various poses, videos featuring cheerleaders, as well as a section dedicated to players wives - also displayed in provocative swim suit attire - a photo of their lucky millionaire-plus husbands by their sides - "Trophy Wives" came to mind as I paged through the gallery of photos. I've known about the annual swimsuit edition for years, but really had no idea what exactly was contained within its pages. When I went and took a look around it reminded me of a Playboy magazine, the only exception being the girls aren't completely nude.
I wasn't offended by the photos. The women are all extremely attractive (though I wondered just how much airbrushing was involved - it seems hard to believe that there could be so many perfect bodies out there). I do however see the point that we as a culture have become totally desensitized to these "sexy" photos, and find the display of a topless woman on the cover of a magazine sitting on a rack in the middle of a Wal-Mart store just this side of unacceptable.
So, where do you stand on this issue? Do you see any problem with a store like Wal-Mart openly displaying this magazine, with it's topless model cover, in clear view of small children - or is this just a case of people being prudish and making much ado over nothing?
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