The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is back, and the 2022 lineup is packed. chevalier chevalier chevalier chevalier chevalier chevalier chevalier chevalier cheval Hunter McGrady, Duckie Thot, Marquita Pring, Tanaya White, and Cindy Kimberly are among the models who adorn the covers this year, each of them carrying on the magazine’s tradition of showing that all bodies are beautiful in their own unique way. This exposure is particularly crucial as summer approaches and the fat-shaming “beach body” ideal appears in fitness advertisements and on social media. These ladies are redefining “beach body” in their own unique ways by showing up and showing out.
Despite the fact that they’re changing the game by reflecting body diversity and redefining global beauty with models from four continents, they all recognize that there’s still a lot of work to be done. I chatted with five of the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models about their personal behind-the-scenes experiences with the legendary shoot, the modeling business in general, and how they’ve learned to love themselves both on and offset.
These lovely young females all share a few characteristics:
All of these stunning young ladies have a few traits: They’ve all battled with self-confidence and learned to appreciate their bodies. Over the last several years, they’ve all witnessed the modeling profession embrace diversity and inclusion more and more (but more change is still required). And, perhaps most unexpectedly, none of them has ever felt as self-assured as they do while appearing for Sports Illustrated in a bikini.
“I show up most of the time and it seems like work.” Enter, get what we need, and then exit. Hunter McGrady, a plus-size model, tells me over Zoom that this “always feels different.” The 29-year-old is a new mother and a third-generation model, and she will appear in Sports Illustrated for the sixth time in 2022.
Despite the fact that she’s been modeling since she was 18, she’s never felt as welcomed as she does while working with MJ Day, the magazine’s editor and director of the swimsuit shots. McGrady adds, “It’s all about the team.” “That’s one of the aspects of MJ Day that I like the most. She creates a wonderful atmosphere.”
As a kid, I was aware of Sports Illustrated.
McGrady was aware of Sports Illustrated as a child – “I saw the issues growing up.” “Oh, my God, the most gorgeous ladies are in here,” I recall thinking when I first saw them, but I didn’t feel represented in the pages. As we discuss modeling representation, she tells me a tale that astounds me, as someone who has worked in the fashion and beauty industries for almost a decade. “[My mother] used to be a size 6, and they informed her she couldn’t model in that size anymore.” She, too, felt unrepresented.”
Marquita Pring, a fellow model, recalls both the beauty and the anguish of being left out of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions. “Seeing all of these various gorgeous bodies in bikinis was something I looked forward to every year,” the 30-year-old admits. “As a chubby, fat, young adolescent girl, I couldn’t really connect to those ladies at the time,” Pring remembers how it felt to wait for the Swimsuit editions with a mixture of enthusiasm and something less pleasant.
“I suppose I always knew I’d never be able to look like that.” So there was a weird juxtaposition of ambitions and desires, as well as thinking, ‘I’d want to see someone like myself in there,'” she adds. While Pring’s physical size and form did not prohibit her from pursuing her desire of being a model, it did restrict her options when she started working professionally at the age of 15.
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Pring’s professional career began in the 1970s.
Pring’s career started during an open casting call at the local Radisson Hotel in Utica, New York. There were “reputable agencies there that happened to be at the forefront of the plus curvy trend,” according to the model, who promised her she wouldn’t have to adjust her size, making a career in New York City seem plausible to the then-teenaged Pring. Only two of the perhaps 100 agencies present at the casting call accepted curvaceous models. To be clear, just 2% of the agencies went above standard sizes.
Pring, like McGrady, believes the sector is evolving, but that it still has a long way to go. “[Plus-size models] are beginning to break into the high fashion sector, which has always been a dream of mine.”
“It’s like, we need to be in the campaigns of Chloé, Chanel, and Dior,” she adds, conceding that there is significantly more work available for curvaceous models today than when she began her career as a teenager. The absence of representation at the time was “devastating.”
“I was the largest, brownest girl in my entire life growing up in upstate New York,” she adds. “I don’t believe I was aware that it needed to be fixed.” It was more of a case of you receiving what you’re served. You are dissatisfied with it, yet it is what you have. You don’t understand you can be a part of the change at that moment.”
Model Robyn Lawley.
Model Robyn Lawley, who wears a size 12 to 15, was featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit in 2015. This was seen by some as a sign that the company was ready to accept body diversity. People didn’t fully feel like they’d witnessed a sign of changing times until the following year, when Ashley Graham, then a size 16, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. (The typical American woman is a size 16 to 18, according to a 2016 research published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education.)
Graham’s cover was “a tremendously significant moment,” according to Pring, who adds that Sports Illustrated wasn’t so much defining the changing times as keeping up with them. “Sports Illustrated was on par with everyone else transitioning into the body positive realm,” she adds.
Since then, the magazine has included a diverse range of body shapes in its most famous issue. Stretch-mark models and models with belly fat are shot with the same sensual looks and vivacity as their size 2 counterparts. Models of various sizes are front and center, which is even more reassuring to anybody who jiggles. Nobody is trying to hide their differences. Cellulite, scars, or anything else may make a difference in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. This year’s edition includes a woman who is smiling and flaunting her C-section scar, a model who is over 70, and a diverse range of body shapes.
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swimsuit editions of ports Illustrated.
In the last five years, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions have included women of different skin tones and hair kinds, as well as transwomen and moms – all of whom have been marginalized by the fashion industry at some point. McGrady is optimistic yet realistic about the industry’s future in terms of body type inclusivity. She adds, “I believe we’re only touching the surface.”
In the last five years or so, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has shown physical diversity often, but it has also included skin tone, ethnicity, and hair texture for much longer.
“We have models, like Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, who are Black model idols. “We have OG legends like Beverly Johnson,” says Tanaya White, a model who had worked for BAE Systems, one of the world’s leading aerospace companies, before auditioning for Sports Illustrated’s open casting call. “However, I would argue that seeing models with Afros or more Afrocentric face traits, such as a larger nose or bigger lips, is considerably more difficult to come by.”