NEW YORK -- The upcoming Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is moving its publication date, pushing it from the chill of February to warmer May, closer to bikini-weather.
Editor of the issue MJ Day tells The Associated Press the shift makes more sense for greater impact. "This is where it works, this is where it's great," she said. "It's always hard to think about buying a swimsuit when its 18 degrees out."
Day, who spoke by phone from a warm but undisclosed spot where some of the upcoming swimsuit issue will be photographed, said May is the time when many readers start to think about beaches and pools.
The switch also unlocks other locations in the world for the models and photographers, who usually need to have wrapped up photographing eight weeks before the issue goes to print.
"We were so limited with our timing," said Day, who has been with the magazine since 1998. "There's been a whole set of places that have been off the table for us because their summers are when we're not shooting."
There was no special reason the month of February was initially chosen 55 years ago for the swimsuit edition. Back then, it was picked to liven up a slow sports winter month.
"The February placement for the swimsuit issue ... was chosen by the head of Sports Illustrated from years ago to fill a hole in the calendar," Day said. "We were just a stopgap."
The original swimsuit issue ran in 1964. It has been a launching pad for models such as Kathy Ireland, Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, Kate Upton and Ashley Graham.
Over the years the issue has tried to stay fresh, with painted bikinis, plus-sized models, unedited photos, tiny swimsuits, amputee models, older models and the addition of professional athletes and celebrities in relationships.
"Creating is always a challenge, right?" Day said. "But I think that's what inspires you to do better, to do more and to do different. If it was the same formulaic thing year after year I think that's boring to the creators as well as the viewership."
Last year, in a nod to the #MeToo movement, the issue featured the likes of gymnast Aly Raisman and model Sailor Brinkley Cook posing nude with words like "Every voice matters," ''Survivor" and "Abuse is never OK."
The annual swimsuit issue has endured showing off beautiful people wearing very little despite pageants like Miss America dropping the swimsuit portion of the competition and de-emphasizing contestants' physical appearance. Day said she and her team carefully select their models for much more than their beauty. "They also are so inspiring and interesting and authentic in their own ways," she said.
"Take the time to get beyond that first impression of someone or how they may look or how they may choose to present themselves," she added, "and understand that they're so much deeper than that. It's not about that bikini they're wearing or the color of your hair or the size of your bra."
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits