Hannah Davis has hit back at critics who claimed her Sports Illustrated cover is ''degrading''.

The 24-year-old model - who stars on the front of the magazine's latest swimsuit edition suggestively pulling down her bikini bottoms - thinks critics are ''overanalysing'' the provocative image and argues that instead of being deemed offensive to women, they should see it as ''empowering''.

She said: ''There's controversy every year, so I think it's kind of just silly that they're making it out to be the big thing; I mean it's the swimsuit issue.

''There are far more scandalous pictures in the magazine if you open it up. It's a girl in a bikini, and I think it's empowering; I've been hearing it's degrading. I think the people who are saying that aren't feminists, because I think when you're a woman and you look at that picture and if you overanalyse it as anything more than just a full picture, it's just silly to me.''

The blonde beauty made the comments as she celebrated the release of the issue in Nashville, Tennessee, alongside Victoria's Secret angel Lily Aldridge.

Lily, 29, also jumped to Hannah's defence and credited the model for her ''perfectly placed'' pose.

She told the New York Post newspaper's Page Six column: ''I think people are totally overreacting over the cover.

''It's a beautiful picture. Her bikini bottoms are in the perfectly placed position. It's fine. It's sexy and that's what Sports Illustrated is.''