Sports Illustrated Puts Plus-Sized Model Ashley Graham on the Cover of the Swimsuit Issue

The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has become something of an American tradition. Ever since it was first published in 1964, it’s become a yearly feature for the magazine, often outselling any other issue they put out. It legitimized the bikini as a piece of apparel, established the supermodel pecking order, and propelled the careers of legends like Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley and Elle Macpherson.

#1 - Meet Ashley Graham

One thing most swimsuit issue cover models have in common is their figure. Swimsuit models are normally svelte to the point of promoting unrealistic and unhealthy body images for young women. Ashley Graham doesn’t fit into that category—she is a plus-sized model who also campaigns for positive body image and body acceptance.

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#2 - A historic swimsuit issue cover

Graham was chosen as one of three cover models for this year’s edition of the swimsuit issue, making her the first plus-sized ever to appear on the cover of the magazine. She’s featured on one of three variant covers, alongside UFC superstar Ronda Rousey and model Hailey Clauson.

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#3 - Sports Illustrated is celebrating a wide variety of body types

This is the first year Sports Illustrated has had multiple covers for their swimsuit issue, and it’s telling that they’ve selected three women with very different body types to highlight. Clauson is very much your traditional sort of swimsuit model. Rousey is a muscular athlete who has chiseled her body for maximum production in mixed martial arts. Graham is “plus-sized”, which means that she actually has proportions that are more in line with an average woman.

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#4 - Graham’s selection is important and well-deserved!

Athletes and more traditional models have graced the swimsuit issue’s cover before, but Graham’s the first plus-sized model to ever earn the honor. She’s not the first plus-sized model to ever appear in the magazine—that would be Robyn Lawley last year—but she’s the first size 16 woman to get anywhere near sniffing the cover.

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#5 - I think she looks great, don’t you?

Graham might not be the normal stick-figured model with massive cleavage that normally graces the cover of things like this, but I think she looks pretty darn good in her photoshoot. There’s more than one kind of model who can rock a bikini, anyway.

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#6 - “You can achieve anything”

On her instragram page, Graham wrote that she was “Truly speechless! This cover is for every woman who felt like she wasn't beautiful enough because of her size. You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to.”

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#7 - Best of all worlds

It seems like its past time for this to happen. Sports Illustrated runs multiple covers for everything from the NFL playoffs to the college basketball tournament. Why not run multiple covers for one of their most iconic issues? That way, their readers can pick which cover they like the best, and they’ll have a variety of body types to choose from. It’s a win for everyone involved.

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#8 - Rock on, Ashley!

After all, women come in all shapes and sizes, and there are beautiful women out there who don’t fall into the stereotypical rail-thin bikini model stereotype. So here’s a cheer to Ashley Graham, Robin Lawley, and all the other plus-sized models out there, pushing their image out there to show the world that beauty doesn’t have to fit into a size 0 dress. Congratulations on your cover, Ashley!

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