Sports Illustrated had three covers this year: Megan Thee Stallion, Naomi Osaka — who, understandably, is not at this party due to her lighting the Olympic torch in Japan and then having to play tennis over there — and Leyna Bloom, a model and actress and celeb in the ball-culture world who became “the first openly transgender woman of color to appear in Vogue India. In May 2019, her feature film debut in Port Authority at the Cannes Film Festival was the first time a trans woman of color was in a leading role of a movie feature at a major film festival.” And now she’s SI Swimsuit’s first trans cover star. It’s awesome. I know people have a variety of feelings about the SI Swimsuit issue, but if they’re going to do it, I like them using that platform for better things.

Here are those covers, in the order I mentioned them; each one opens with a video version, and swipe/click to the second slide to see the actual cover.

Megan’s cover is good — it’s sexy and it’s confident, and if there’s ever a place and time for the open-mouth cover pose, it’s SI.

Naomi Osaka’s is not as strong, I don’t think:

It just looks to me as if she’s thinking, “Oooookay, this is weird, but let’s try it.” A lot of bad-faith actors have been eye-rolling Naomi’s recent magazine covers in light of her declining to do French Open press, then pulling out of that and Wimbledon altogether, but to me that misses the salient point that doing a cover shoot and/or an interview when you are on your own time — and on a relaxed schedule — is VERY different than trying to deal with the media day-in and day-out when you’re trying to stay in your competitive headspace. It’s not about controlling the questions, I don’t think; it’s about wanting more time to decompress from your matches, prep from the next ones, BREATHE for a second, handle your own stress and nerves, let your body recover… I can totally see where those kinds of routine press obligations, while you’re also under the bright lights of the court and trying to pull off a win, would work a person’s anxiety in the way that this kind of stuff doesn’t. (And for what it’s worth, Naomi shot this one in December, 5-6 months before the French Open.)

Finally, here is Leyna Bloom’s:

The up-the-nose/straddle combo is not my favorite positioning, but she does still look beautiful. She reminds me in this photo of Simone Missick, from the late and troubled All Rise, whom I LOVE and who I hope is developing one of Jasmine Guillory’s books into a movie (I vote for Party of Two, I think). Hell, Leyna should develop one of them, too. DEVELOP THEM ALL.

[Photos: Shutterstock]