Hunter McGrady is one of the Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue rookies, and is their curviest model yet

By Julie Mazziotta
February 15, 2017 11:21 AM

Get ready for your new curvy role model: Hunter McGrady.

The beauty is making a splash as one of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Rookies of the Year, and she’s the magazine’s curviest women ever.

“This is a surreal moment for me,” McGrady, 23, wrote on Instagram. I want to thank @MJ_Day for an opportunity like this and for being a force in this industry and everyone at @si_swimsuit for promoting that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.”

“Beauty is not a number. It has no limits. I have never felt sexier than I did in this shoot.”

McGrady didn’t get her start as a curvy model. She spent years dieting to force her body to stay just around 115 lbs. despite her 5’11” height, because she thought there was no chance she would get modeling jobs at a higher weight.

“I didn’t work very much as a straight sized model because I am a very hippy person,” she tells SI. “When I was about 19, I learned about plus size modeling. It was actually Robyn Lawley, Tara Lynn and Candice Huffine on the Vogue Italia cover. I saw that and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, these women are so beautiful and they are my size.’ By that time, I had gained some weight and I was about a size 10-12. And that’s what kind of opened my eyes to the plus size world. I went into Wilhelmina and I got signed and from there, it was like one job after another.”

Hunter McGrady

“At first I thought my dream was crushed because I didn’t know about the curve or plus industry. And over the past seven years, people have started talking about it and it’s in the media now and I’m so grateful that Sports Illustrated is promoting it because it’s a movement that I’m so proud to be a part of.”

McGrady, who posed in nothing but a body-painted swimsuit, says this is a dream come true.

Sports Illustrated is the end goal, I feel like that’s what everyone is striving to get,” she says in a video for SI Swimsuit. “The fact that they’re using a curvy model is beyond my wildest dreams. I’m doing this not only for me, but for every woman out there who has ever felt uncomfortable in their body, and needs to know that you are sexy.”

And she emphasized on Instagram that her shoot is for all women who need a confidence boost.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, on stands now

“Women, for anyone who has ever felt uncomfortable or insecure because of rolls, or stretch marks, or cellulite, or acne, or felt like you didn’t measure up because you weren’t represented in the magazines — THIS IS FOR YOU! You are beautiful. You are STRONG. You are powerful and together we need to lift each other up and inspire one another,” McGrady wrote. “There’s too much going on on this world to let each other fall by the waste[sic] side.”