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Friday, December 9, 2011

Kate Upton: America’s love/hate relationship with the new ‘it’ model

By Maura Judkis
Model Kate Upton graces the cover of the Sports Illustrated 2012 Swimsuit Issue. (Walter Iooss JR - AP)
Kate Upton, a 19-year-old swimwear model, is your 2012 Sports Illustrated cover girl this year, and seemingly everyone has an opinion on her. Although the magazine’s cover model always makes news, it’s been a while since an issue has provoked such polarizing opinions: Fans of Upton will defend her fiercely, while her detractors have slung some vicious insults.

It’s not just bodysnarking or the annual feminist outcry against SI’s objectification of women — some of Upton’s harshest critics come from within the fashion industry.


Both men and women love her “real body”: Upton represents a move back toward the Cindy Crawford-style curvier supermodel, and away from the super-svelte sunken-cheekbone type that has been walking runways in recent years. “I hope she represents a new/retro standard in modeling. According to the New York Times, one of the contributing factors to Upton being signed to IMG was a YouTube video of her doing the Dougie.

She wants to be a Tyra Banks-style ‘modelpreneur’: It’s not enough to be a pretty face these days — models must nab endorsement deals and launch their own products to have staying power and move into Tyra Banks/Heidi Klum territory. Hate:

(That day, Erik Wemple noted with glee that a bikini-clad photo of Upton appeared on the New York Times’ Page 3.)

Her celebrity dating life makes her tabloid fodder: Upton has been linked to New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and Kanye West, though she has denied dating both. Upton’s tabloid life means she risks being overexposed in more than just a too-tiny bikini sort of way. And speaking of that bikini ...

Certainly, the ability to wear unnaturally small bikini bottoms has not endeared Upton to women. A CafeMom commenter wrote, “What bikini?

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