Today, the publication released its three alternate Swimsuit Issue covers for 2021, with models Megan Thee Stallion, Naomi Osaka, and Leyna Bloom. “And I manifested it!”


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Tags: Instead, the 2021 issue is serving zeitgeist. “I was a little girl looking at the cover of Sports Illustrated like ‘one day, this is gonna be me,’” Megan said in a video for the SI website. It is serving relevance. She comes from the ballroom scene, which is modeling at its most athletic. There’s Bloom, making history as the first transgender cover model in SI swimsuit history. It is serving Hot Girl Summer shit. It’s always exciting when SI chooses actual athletes as its cover models, and we believe that this year, all three women qualify. There’s Osaka, the rising tennis star. And then there’s Megan Thee Stallion, whose knees are a marvel of sports science. Photo: Sports Illustrated

The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue might have aged into something almost quaint by this point, an out-of-touch vestigial remnant of a pre-internet visual culture, when teen boys had to get their jollies in analog. It could have gone the way of Victoria’s Secret, stubbornly phasing out its angels altogether rather than expanding its idea of what a fantasy could look like.