Sports Illustrated model Hunter McGrady wants to get rid of labels like "plus size" because "it's a form of segregation"

By Julie Mazziotta
February 24, 2017 10:14 AM

Hunter McGrady doesn’t like the label “plus size.”

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model says she prefers to describe herself as a “curve” model, but wishes she didn’t have to use a term to classify her size at all.

” ‘Curve’ I find is a more glamorous way of saying it. ‘Plus size’ has just gotten this dirty stigma. But I would love no labels [at all],” McGrady, 23, tells PEOPLE. “I would love to be able to tell people that I’m a model, and not have to clarify that I’m a plus size model.”

“I do the same thing as the other girls,” she continues. “I get paid the same, I show up at the same time, we get treated the same. So why would I be called something else?”

Hunter McGrady in Sports Illustrated‘s 2017 Swimsuit issue, on sale now
Josephine Clough Swimsuit Issue 2017

McGrady says it unnecessarily singles her out from other women in the industry.

“I think it’s a form of segregation,” she says. “I think it sets us back so many years, and I would love to completely get rid of it, and it may not happen, but we’re working on it.”

The model, who fulfilled a lifelong dream this year as one of SI Swim’s 2017 rookies, wasn’t always categorized as “curve.” When she started out in the industry at age 15, she was an 114-lb., size 2/4 model, but she was fighting her body’s natural shape to stay that way.

Hunter McGrady
Instagram; Rob Kim/FilmMagic

“My hips were always the bigger part of my body, and I was already so thin that I couldn’t keep shaving them down. I physically could not. And everyone was telling me that I could,” McGrady says. “At that time I thought my dreams of becoming a model were crushed.”

At 19, she heard about curve modeling and went for a meeting with Wilhelmina Models, where they signed her immediately. Since then, the success has just kept coming.

RELATED VIDEO: Hunter McGrady Is One of Sports Illustrated‘s 2017 Rookies!

“It just goes to show how much we need this in the media. Women want to see this — women and men,” McGrady says. “It’s been far too long that we’ve seen one type of person being portrayed, and the fact that I can change that stereotype is very, very cool.”