The 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue has made history – making three women the cover stars for the first time in its 52-year history.
UFC fighter-turned-actress Ronda Rousey, model Ashley Graham and 20-year-old newcomer Hailey Clauson front the magazine’s landmark edition.
Rousey described the honour as “like a dream I forgot to have and ended up having it anyway”.
“It really is just an honour to be in a real historical issue like this that is celebrating all body types of women,” Rousey told People. “I really feel like media presents a very cookie-cutter image for women to aspire to, which for certain body types it’s just not realistic or healthy.
“I love that all the covers are three different body types in their healthiest form.”
28-year-old Graham hailed Sports Illustrated for making her its first size-16 cover star.
She said: “I thought it would be really groundbreaking if Sports Illustrated put a girl who’s size 14-16 on the cover—someone who’s considered plus-size—and then I thought ‘Maybe it’s just too progressive. Maybe they’ll wait another year. Who knows?’ When I saw it, I thought ‘Oh my god, this is real life.’”
Graham last year gave a TED talk in which she addressed the industry’s “plus-size” label.
“I, like you, possess a wonderfully unique and diverse physique,” she said. “Now, the fashion industry may persist to label me as ‘plus size’, but I like to think of it as ‘my size’.”
Model Clauson, who posed topless for her cover photo, said that: “Every little girl has somebody to relate to in the issue”.
Clauson, who has modelled for Gucci and Jill Stewart, continued: “Every woman stands for something and it’s not just a model. Everybody has a personality.”
Previous swimsuit cover models have included Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and Gigi Hadid.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is available from today (February 15).