The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue by the Numbers

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But she has such a trustworthy face!
But she has such a trustworthy face! Photo: Getty Images

For straight men of a certain age, there may be no more indelible image than the one Sports Illustrated published years ago of Cheryl Tiegs in a fishnet one-piece, with her nipples as visible as the sky is blue. It was, shall we say, a revelation, and it's posed something of a problem ever since. Because they can't actually show women in the complete nude (and aren't there enough places that do that anyway?), they must attempt, every year, to perfect the art of so-close-but-not-quite nudity. And frankly, they do a pretty good job of it, not only posing superhot models in the scantiest of garments allegedly used for swimming, but getting them to act as if they are about to frolic right out of them and into the buff. So this year, we did a careful accounting of their various photographic methodologies, covering only the pictures published in the magazine. There are hundreds more on SI.com, should you wish to spend the day there.

PHOTO TYPES:
Model about to rip off bikini bottom (including cover): 10
Model about to remove top: 4
Bathing suit entirely off (not including the painted models): 1
Fairly visible areolae: 2
Fishnetlike tops with anatomical details more or less Photoshopped out: 3
No top, or top off with strategically placed arm: 9
Legs akimbo: 3
Bikini bottom packed into derrière — to an extent that no person would ever do in public or even tolerate in private, not even a fashion model with a perfect body — like a wedgie: 2

Oh, and by the way — the now-annual trick of painting naked models (while studiously obscuring key anatomical features)? When they painted a face on Jessica White's crotch, it really reached its nadir.