What Happened When 6 Women Recreated Famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Covers

Every year, there's a big media frenzy surrounding the reveal of the next Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model. And while 2016's cover made history for featuring plus-size model Ashley Graham, for so many years prior, the faces and bodies on that glossy cover have perpetuated a one-size beauty standard.

That's where Buzzfeed came in.

On Monday, Buzzfeed revealed a multimedia project that features six women with different body types recreating iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover images. The project highlights the absence of diversity on the S.I. covers and demonstrates how a lack of representation can affect young women's perception of what is sexy.

"I don’t think I’ve ever really seen myself fully represented on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covers," said Nina Mohan, who posed like Tyra Banks. "There’s only been a handful of women of color on these covers, and all the women tend to have a very similar body type: big boobs and flat stomachs."

Her sentiments were shared by the other women in the shoot. They all spoke about idolizing the S.I. models while also noting that they weren't a reflection of anyone they knew.

In addition to recreating the images, the women all shared written and video testimonials about the way it felt to see the final photos of themselves on the beach.

"When I saw my final picture for the first time, my first thought was, Let me send this to my ex real quick," said Susan Cheng.

Kristin Chirico had a different reaction to her final image, writing, "When I saw my final photo, my brain was screaming that I looked like a Troll doll left to melt in a hot car. My body shape makes this a very unflattering pose for me, and FAR more nakedly sexual than I felt comfortable with."

She added, "I was honestly shocked at how difficult it was not to be consumed with guilt and fear, which made me wonder how many other women have felt this way over a picture."

In the end, all of the staffers-turned-models agreed that what we need is more media representation of women with different bodies, skin tones, and backgrounds. One summed it up perfectly: "Sexiness is diverse and can go across a multitude of body types."

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