You may think the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is only about sex appeal, hot models and skimpy bikinis that occasionally are only painted on.
And for the most part, you're correct.
But there is also a very artistic side to the annual issue, with some of the top swimwear designers and finest photographers combining to create a magazine that appeals to a number of crowds.
For the more "high-brow" audience, this year is especially a treat, as the Swimsuit Edition takes viewers to eight locales: Antarctica (seriously), Haymen Island in the Great Barrier Reef, the Bahamas, Easter Island in Chile, China, Las Vegas, Namibia and Seville in Spain.
So you get a Swimsuit Edition and a travel magazine. Not too shabby, huh?
I know what some of you are thinking: Who cares? I get that. Some of you shouldn't bother caring. You buy the Swimsuit Edition for what it's primarily selling—sex appeal.
For others, the annual issue is all about fashion. Some folks look it over to admire the work done by some of the top photographers in the world.
And some of us are interested in beauty. Obviously, that encompasses a lot of things—beautiful women, creative photography, and in this case, gorgeous scenery from locations that aren't normally the backdrop for a fashion shoot.
In that sense, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is an exploration of beauty in various forms. That probably sounds pretentious—hell, it probably just is pretentious—but I can see photos of hot, scantily-clad women in any number of magazines or at countless websites.
After awhile, it gets a little bit boring.
So the Swimsuit Edition has to find a way to bring the sex appeal but still stand out. It has to maintain an image of class and sophistication so it remains a step ahead of the other magazines that sell sex appeal 12 times a year.
Yes, the Swimsuit Edition has to be art, or at least pretend like its art. And that means taking its readers to beautiful new locations while putting Kate Upton in an opened parka on the cover or painting a bikini on her body.
Sometimes the magazine gets a little beyond itself—seriously, Kate Upton is wearing a parka on the cover of the Swimsuit Edition?—but you have to credit the mag for remaining unique.
Literally and figuratively, Sports Illustrated is trying to take you somewhere new this year. Anybody can show you pictures of sexy models in bikinis.
But not anybody will do so in Antarctica.