Plus-size model Ashley Graham will make history Monday when she becomes the first size-16 model to cover Sports Illustrated magazine’s vaunted “Swimsuit Issue.”
For the first time in its 52-year history, the magazine will release three separate covers for its 2016 swimsuit edition, featuring three different women: Graham, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, and previous SI swimsuit model Hailey Clauson. The magazine revealed its cover choices during a TNT special on Saturday night.
“I thought Sports Illustrated was taking a risk by putting a girl my size in the pages,” Graham told People magazine. “But putting me on the cover? They aren’t just breaking barriers; they are the standard now. This is beyond epic.”
The 28-year-old Nebraska native credited SI Swimsuit issue editor MJ Day for her history-making cover and for making her feel like she was “supposed to be there” during the photo shoot.
Graham dedicated the cover to “all the women out there who never felt that they were beautiful enough, who never felt like they were skinny enough, and who never felt like they were going to be able to be represented in society like this.”
Truly speechless!!! This cover is for every woman who felt like she wasn't beautiful enough because of her size. You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to. Thank you so much to the entire @si_swimsuit team! I'm so excited to be a part of your family. I love you all!!! #siswim #beautybeyondsize
“Girls who are insecure about their bodies, girls who feel fat, girls who have cellulite, girls who have stretch marks on their body — those are all the things that I had as a kid and I never had a woman like me growing up to look at,” Graham told People. “I had my mother and that’s one thing, but to have somebody who has cellulite, who has things that jiggle, who has back fat and talk about how you can be an overcomer and not let society take you down for all of that. That’s real.”
Sports Illustrated‘s 2016 Swimsuit issue hits newsstands Monday, February 15. Watch the magazine’s big reveal above.