Chances are, at one point or another (or many points), you've felt insecure about how your body looks in a bathing suit. So when a size 14 model named Ashley Graham appeared in Sports Illustrated's highly-anticipated Swimsuit Issue back in 2014 (a space previously reserved for ultra-thin bikini bodies only), a collective sigh of relief was shared by women everywhere: change, it seemed, was finally coming.
And change Ashley Graham did bring. Not only did the model go on to later land her own Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover, she also broke countless boundaries in the fashion world, ushering in a new wave of body positivity and inclusivity. In the past year alone Graham landed an H&M Studio campaign, launched a lingerie collection with Addition Elle, penned an essay on body shaming that went viral (opens in new tab) and even got her own Barbie (opens in new tab) (the first to have thighs that touch, nonetheless). Now, she's making her Sports Illustrated return with a diverse swimwear campaign for Swimsuits for All (opens in new tab) that's putting "regular women" in the Swimsuit Issue for the first time.
The Sports Illustrated x Swimsuits For All campaign, titled "Every Body, Every Age, Every Beautiful,"celebrates Graham's body positive philosophy. Shot in the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the campaign features Graham alongside a group of women—some of whom are San Juan locals and some of whom are models—of varying shapes, ages and backgrounds. The end result? More size, age and racial diversity to be featured in the highly-anticipated swimsuit issue.
We spoke to Graham about the new campaign, the importance of women supporting each other and how things have changed since her Sports Illustrated debut.
Lauren Fisher: Why was it important for you to debut the Swimsuits for All campaign in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue?
Ashley Graham: Two years ago, my #CurvesInBikinis ad debuted in the SI Swimsuit Issue and it was a huge moment in my career. I was the first size 14 model to be featured in an ad in the magazine, and fast forward to a year later, I was the first size 14 model on the cover! SI Swim, Swimsuits For All and I all share the same mission to celebrate the female body and empower women to feel good in their own skin. That's why it was important to debut the "Every Body, Every Age, Every Beautiful" ad in the issue again this year and show even more diverse women.
LF: What was the inspiration behind your latest swimsuit collection for Swimsuits for All?
AG: I was inspired by the tropical feeling of Puerto Rico. It's the type of place that encourages so much love! I felt like shaking my hips the entire time I was there, and you will see that festive spirit in the prints and design details.
LF: Tell me about the women who star in the campaign with you.
AG: These ladies are all gorgeous! Their energy and spirit was so positive, and they exuded confidence no matter their age and size. And they look amazing in the suits!
LF: What was the experience like shooting the campaign with local women from San Juan?
AG: It was such a wonderful experience. We were shooting in the streets of San Juan, and the final images really capture the essence of the city's culture.
LF: Your body has been criticized for being too curvy in the past and recently for "slimming down too much" on Instagram, do those comments ever get to you?
AG: Everyone wants to be an "expert" on social media and share their opinion behind the keyboard. As a model, I'm used to having my body scrutinized, and I have a tough skin so I can shake it off. I know I'm the only person that gets to decide how my body should look. It's really important that we stop body shaming people online and on social media. The rude comments under pictures, comparing women in "who looks better" posts—all that does is force us to judge each other. It only sets us back and women, now more than ever, need to empower each other.
LF: Do you have any advice for the women who don't feel confident wearing a bikini?
AG: I always say wear what makes you feel most confident, and confidence doesn't always come over night. If a bikini isn't your style, there are other options in my collection that will make you feel comfortable, which is the most important part. I love the one-pieces with cut outs and mesh detailing. They're just as sexy as the bikinis, if not more!
LF: How do you think the body positive movement has evolved since your Sports Illustrated cover?
AG: The SI Swim cover was life changing, not just for myself but for women everywhere who've been told they can't do something because of their size. Body positivity is no longer a side conversation, it's mainstream.
Follow Marie Claire on Facebook (opens in new tab) for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.
Lauren Alexis Fisher is the former market editor for HarpersBAZAAR.com. While studying fashion and business at LIM College in New York, she held internships at Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, College Fashionista, and Harper's BAZAAR. Lauren covers fashion news, trends, shopping, travel, celebrity style, and more for Bazaar.com. When she's not glued to her phone or laptop, she enjoys traveling, brunching, and tweeting bad jokes.
Makeup Artists Agree—These Are the 10 Biggest 2023 Makeup Trends
Smudged eyeliner, underpainting, and bold blush are leading the charge.
By Samantha Holender
What I Wear to Work: Deborah Yager Fleming
The hotelier utilizes color coding to jumpstart her day.
By Sara Holzman
New Horror Movies We're Dying to Watch
Brand-new nightmare fuel, right this way.
By Brooke Knappenberger
Gisele Shows Us Her Go-To Dance Moves and More While Playing Pop Quiz
Can we be friends? Y/N
By Rachel Epstein
Gigi Hadid Strutted the Runway Barefoot After Her Shoe Broke
Guess she had to think on her feet.
By Chelsey Sanchez
Irina Shayk Says She's Not Against Marriage, Even After Her Bradley Cooper Split
Also: Suitors, she'd like you to send her a tomato plant, please.
By Emily Dixon
Adam Levine Cheering for Behati Prinsloo Is the Best Moment of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
The Maroon singer lost it when his wife took the runway.
By Marie Claire
Ashley Graham Responds to Kendall Jenner Being Selective About Who She Models For
"These tits and ass have just had to fight through and break down barriers every day."
By Rachel Epstein
Kate Upton Helped Husband Justin Verlander Through His Depression
“Who knows if I’m even here if it wasn’t for her?”
By Rachel Epstein
A Definitive Timeline of Karlie Kloss and Josh Kushner's Very Private Relationship
Yep, he's the brother of you know who.
By Rachel Epstein
Bella Hadid Just Posted a Revealing Underwear Photo with a Mysterious Message
"You should let me be right..."
By Amy Mackelden