UPDATE: It's official: There are two non-straight-size models in the pages of the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Australian model Robyn Lawley is one of SI's "Rookies" celebrated in the pages of the magazine while wearing a Montce bikini. We're thrilled with the editorial decision to incorporate women of different sizes and shapes. Sure, it's just two models among many, but hopefully this is a harbinger of more diverse representations of beauty in the media. Originally Published On February 4, 2015: For 50 years, landing the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has been considered a major modeling milestone. After all, that spot helped put Marisa Miller, Tyra Banks, Elle Macpherson, and Kate Upton on the map. (Sometimes, it put them in zero gravity.) For readers who wear above a size 4, though, the mag has always left something to be desired (an ounce of diversity). The 51st edition — finally — will address that lack, but we can't chalk this up as a win for body inclusivity just yet. Ashley Graham, made famous for her too-steamy-for-TV Lane Bryant ads and a Vogue.com editorial devoted to bustier bra styles, can henceforth be known as the first plus-size model to wear her string bikini in the pages of SI. It’s a well-deserved accomplishment for a woman who’s not only a total babe in front of the camera, but also a badass business force behind the scenes. She's created her own lingerie collections with Addition Elle and advocated for diversity in fashion as a cofounder of Alda, a collective of IMG models who proudly stand out from the straight-size mold.
For the Sports Illustrated issue, Graham serves up so much poolside sex appeal that a business-suit-clad fella collapses into the water. It's cheeky, glamourous, and totally a cover-worthy concept for the magazine's swim issue. But, it’s not on the cover, or even in an editorial. It’s an ad. The saucy photo is part of a campaign for SwimSuitsForAll, the awesome online retailer known for turning blogger GabiFresh’s “fatkini” into a popular plus swimwear line, and the hashtag #CurvesinBikinis into a movement. While the image is still a milestone for the magazine — and an empowering moment for plus models everywhere — it's still a half-win at best. Check out the SwimSuitsForAll campaign video below, and check out the SI issue on February 9 to see the print ad that's giving us just a little hope for change.
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