Every year, Sports Illustrated hosts its very own fashion show and, this past Saturday, it was more inclusive than it's ever been, with models of all sizes, ages and races walking the Miami runway during Swim Week.
The show's mission, according to a press release, was to “redefine the culture conversation around beauty by celebrating a diverse group of women," which included professional athletes, entrepreneurs, models, mothers, rookies and swim search contestants. This comes after years upon years of the brand being criticized for showcasing just one type of model: thin, white, and in her 20s.
In an Instagram post over the weekend, model Kathy Jacobs (who describes herself in her profile as the “oldest/shortest Sports Illustrated rookie ever”) wrote of the event, “This is what runway domination at 57 years old and 5’2” tall looks like on the surface. What you don’t see are the years of hundreds of rejections, discipline, heartbreak and balls to the wall perseverance behind what it took to be in this short video! Fake it till you make it. If you fall down get back up and try again!”
Mid-size model Saje Nicole also posted to Instagram, writing, “Like if you want to see more curve and midsize models on the runway 😎🔥We’ve come a long way but still have more work to do. It’s not about singling out a few curve models that are killing it. In the words of @tyrabanks “Let’s lose count. ⌛️⏳⌛️❤️#letslosecount.”
Model Natalie Gage also commented on the event on social, writing, “Regardless of what size I’ve been, I’ve always had a resounding love and respect for my body. Full acceptance of every inch of my body inside and out." In another, she wrote, "Different angles, different lighting, same body, same vibes. Our bodies can look different from different angles but what’s the most important. Is how we view ourselves through our own eyes, cause “we out here living large and taking chargeeeeeee.”
Also strutting their stuff were Canadian plus-size model Amanda Kay and personal chef Chelsea Heath.
As always, the runway show served as a preview for the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which you can buy when it hits stands on July 19, and is reportedly set to feature Megan Thee Stallion as its cover star. The issue will also feature Leyna Bloom, the magazine's first transgender model of colour, and Lewis Freese, the brand’s first male candidate to become a finalist in the SI Swim Search, while COVID nurse Maggie Rawlins will be one of its many bikini models.
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