The magazine has been pushing the limits for years. In the 2013 edition, 39 models were photographed topless compared with only nine the year before.
The changes haven’t gone unnoticed. Last year’s issue sparked protests over the growing brazenness of the photos.
“Simply: The swimsuit edition is a blatant money grab, and SI knows it,” wrote sports blogger Ed Sherman after last year’s issue came out.
“What I have found interesting through the years is how far SI will push the envelope in showing risque shots of the models,” he added.
Turns out last year’s issue is tame compared with this year.
Religious groups, as the do almost every year, have blasted the magazine’s drift into nudity. One group calls the 2014 issue “nothing more than soft-core pornography.”
The latest cover, the group notes, is “actually is more sexualized than the cover of the latest issue of Playboy.”
It what may be a first, cover girl Nina Agdal poses in at least four photos fully exposing her breasts through a sheer top. In past years, nipples have always been out of bounds. Not now.
She also poses nude or topless in several other photos. She covers her lady bits with a strategically placed arm, a folded leg, or her bikini bottom.
In fact Agdal is one of three models who appear topless together on the cover. She’s joined by Lily Aldridge and Chrissy Teigen, both also topless in tiny thong bikinis.
SI swimsuit rookie model Hannah Ferguson goes even further appearing in no less than 20 photos that show off her breasts.
Sports Illustrated last tried that trick in 2006. Models Rachel Hunter, Veronica Varkova, Elle Macpherson, Rebecca Romijn, Daniela Pestova, Elsa Benitez, Carolyn Murphy and Yamila Diaz were featured topless on the cover.
This issue caused such an uproar, subscribers have had the option since then to foregoing receiving the issue.
This year, models Kate Upton, Irina Shayk and Emily Ratajkowski are among those who doff their tops, while Genevieve Morton poses fully unclothed.
If there are no swimsuits, how can they call it a swimsuit issue? Skip the pretense, just call it the Nude Issue.
The photos are a little too risque for TheImproper, but you can see them here.