Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue will only feature advertisers championing gender equality

Olivia Culpo graced the cover in 2020 credit:Bang Showbiz
Olivia Culpo graced the cover in 2020 credit:Bang Showbiz

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit will only allow advertisers who support gender equality in their annual swimsuit issue.

The publication announced their new ‘Pay With Change’ initiative - only allowing brands to advertise in its pages if they work to ensure gender equality - on Thursday (20.01.22), which marked the 58th anniversary of the first swimsuit issue in 1964.

In a statement, MJ Day - the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor-in-chief - said: “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has been leading the charge in creating change in women’s lives for years, despite what some critics and naysayers would like you to believe.

"However, in a world where women’s bodies are under attack and their value is continuously underestimated, we knew we needed to act in a bold, more responsible way. Pay With Change is not just a platform to us, it is our commitment to creating greater progress for women.”

Examples of their work “leading the charge” include having Leyna Bloom and Valentina Sampaio as their first transgender models gracing the 2020 and 2021 issues, respectively.

The magazine - which boasts Tyra Banks, Brooklyn Decker, Olivia Culpo and Cheryl Tiegs among its cover stars over the years - will gauge potential advertisers with their past, present and future commitments to gender parity before coming to their final conclusions in May regarding who will feature alongside their digital, print and social media content.

Hillary Drezner, the publication’s general manager, said: “Pay With Change will be our new standard of business moving forward. It’s our proof of progress, proof of passion and proof of our belief that we must be the change we want to see.

"Starting now, we’ll turn our advertising and activation space into a place to create change for women. We are committing to this initiative throughout all aspects of our business and are inviting all brands who are demonstrating progress to join us.”

In addition, a percentage of each dollar gathered in advertising revenue will go towards the newly established Sports Illustrated Gender Equity Fund, which will support charities championing gender equality.