Sports Illustrated Breaks New Ground With Inclusive Swimsuit Issue

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Peter Menzel

Hey, Hollywooders! This HollyGOOD Tuesday, Sports Illustrated’s 57th annual Swimsuit Issue is here to grace us with its most inclusive issue ever! You might think that this is just another traditional magazine cover with a number of beautiful models but that is not the case. The magazine and specifically the Swimsuit Issue have been working toward more inclusivity and diversity over the last few years, and the latest edition meets the moment with 34 women of all ages, sizes, and races included.

From SI’s inclusion of 3 Black women on the cover itself to its embracement of transgender and plus-sized models from diverse backgrounds, the magazine’s commitment to breaking away from its own traditions in the name of inclusivity makes this year’s swimsuit edition a perfect HollyGOOD moment.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue: Making cover model history

The magazine announced its three cover models, and while this is a normal part of the issue, the outstanding women chosen all have very different backgrounds. We first have tennis star Naomi Osaka. She is a powerhouse on and off the court. She is known for speaking up about issues important to her including racial injustice and mental health, all while being an incredible athlete.

Megan Thee Stallion will be the first rapper to ever grace SI’s swimsuit issue cover. Everyone knows her confident, female empowering attitude, which has made her one of Hollywood’s hottest musicians in recent years. She and Nicki Minaj released one of THE best songs to share this message with the world, “Hot Girl Summer.” Through her ultra-successful career as an artist she has been able to share her story and messages of encouragement and being yourself with other women. Megan Thee Stallion even says that she even dreamed about being on the SI swimsuit cover when she was a young girl.

“It definitely was a dream for me to be on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit,” she tells CNN via email. “And to be the first female rapper? Who else would they pick? I am just happy they chose the Hot Girl Coach!”


 
 
 
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A post shared by Megan Thee Stallion (@theestallion)

Lenya Bloom is another incredibly talented person who will grace SI’s cover this year. Lenya is a model, actress, and dancer, and she is the first transgender person of color to grace the pages of the magazine, let alone be on the first transgender cover model of the magazine! She has been working her way through Hollywood and the entertainment industry over the last several years and continues to blow everyone away with her beauty and talent.


 
 
 
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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue: From household names to newcomers, there are so many incredible women included

Thirty four women are included in the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Household names include models Camille Kostek, Josephine Skriver, Olivia Culpo and Valentina Sampaio. Newcomers to the magazine’s swimsuit issue (who don’t need any introduction!) include Yumi Nu, Natalie Mariduena, Kathy Jacobs, Katrina Scott, Lenya Bloom, Nyma Tang, and Tanaye White. Many of these women aren’t traditional models; they work in a variety of industries and all bring different skill sets to the table, showing that everyone is beautiful exactly how they are.

Yumi Nu is the first plus sized Asian American model to feature in the magazine, along with being an incredible singer. She took to Instagram to share her gratitude and experience being a part of SI’s swimsuit edition.


 
 
 
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Beauty has no age limit and Kathy Jacobs showcases that at the stunning age of 57. She proves that age is just that: a number. Looking gorgeous, she paves the way for a new age group of women who traditionally aren’t shown in magazines this way.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue: The challenges of creating the magazine during a pandemic

With everything that has occurred over the last year and a half nothing about creating the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition was normal. While many shoots in the past have taken place all across the globe, this year they were limited to the United States with the ongoing pandemic.

“Among the many things we’ve learned over the past 18 months is how much we value being a part of a community and how much we miss that interaction when it’s taken away,” Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day writes in a news release. “This issue represents the culmination of our powerful community coming together during these trying times to make history.”

It is exciting and inspiring to see the continued growth and inclusion in one of the most iconic magazines in history. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit is showcasing all women for who they are and not changing them to who society used to tell us we had to be, and that being unique is what makes us all so special!

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