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17.08.2018

SI Swimsuit’s plus-size model is embracing her curves.

In a stunning black-and-white photo for this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Hunter McGrady, 24, is the picture of confidence. She’s nude, boldly looking at the camera, with a series of empowering words scrawled across her body. McGrady, who earned a coveted spot in this year’s issue, is a size 16 — the average for...
Time: 18:13     Date: 13.02.2018
US Living News: SI Swimsuit’s plus-size model is embracing her curves. NY Post 24 - US News

She’s nude, boldly looking at the camera, with a series of empowering words scrawled across her body. McGrady, who earned a coveted spot in this year’s issue, is a size 16 — the average for US women — and she’s not shy about showing off her curves.

But she wasn’t always so fearless.

As a child growing up in Los Angeles, she believed that being in front of the camera was in her blood. Raised by a model mother (Brynja McGrady) and an actor father (Michael McGrady), she always thought she would follow in her family’s footsteps. She got her first agent at age 16, but the nearly 6-foot-tall blonde quickly learned that even at a size 2, she was considered too “big” for the fashion world.

McGrady used to be a size 2 as a young [email protected]

In an effort to fit in, she stopped eating anything but salad — dressing on the side — and exercising for four hours a day to get down to a size 0.

“I was gaunt and very unhealthy,” McGrady, who now lives in New York, tells The Post. “I battled severe depression.”

Eventually, she decided that her dream of becoming a model wasn’t worth the toll it took on her physical and mental health. She got her high-school diploma, found work as a nanny and, finally, let herself eat.

By age 20, she’d transformed from a sickly teenager into a curvaceous woman, with hips, cellulite and even stretch marks. Rather than fight against nature, she made a vow that changed everything: She would love her body no matter what. It was a turning point for her career.

At the time, McGrady didn’t know much about plus-size modeling, but she always remembered the June 2011 “Vogue Italia” cover, with three voluptuous women in lingerie — Tara Lynn, Robyn Lawley and Candice Huffine — sitting seductively at a table set with red wine and pasta.

“I had never seen such a gorgeous cover in my entire life,” she recalls. “I didn’t know what it was, or what I was seeing, but these girls looked like me.”

Inspired by that image, she mustered the confidence to approach Wilhelmina Models, the same top agency that had once represented her mom. She was signed on the spot, and almost immediately booked jobs at Miami Swim Week in 2013, as well as gigs with top brands such as Nordstrom and Forever 21.

Her success was instant, and enormously validating. The shy, sickly teen who couldn’t book a job was reborn as an in-demand plus-size model who didn’t even have to bother with castings, because clients were requesting her.

“I wasn’t changing my body anymore,” McGrady says. “I wasn’t fighting to be something I wasn’t — and still, I was living my dream.”

Danielle Herringtonion graces the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue that features McGrady.Ben Watts/Sports Illustrated

Then, Sports Illustrated called.

She first appeared in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue last year, with a single photo of her wearing nothing but body paint. This year, she’s more prominent, posing in a groundbreaking, black-and-white series that’s the issue’s homage to the #MeToo movement. She got to choose the words that appear on her skin.

“Confidence,” written down her leg, is an important reminder of how far she has come. But “worthy,” scrawled across her chest, is the most meaningful to the young pinup.

It reminds her of the affirmation she’s spoken every single morning since those days — now long ago — when she felt so insecure about her body that she would do anything to change it.

“I am beautiful in the skin I’m in,” McGrady tells herself daily. “I am worthy of success and feeling these wonderful things.”

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Business

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Sport

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