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Since 2000, Maxim magazine has named its Hot 100, crowning the "Sexiest Woman Alive." In counting down to the 2021 winner, the magazine posted its Hot 100 covers of the past few years on Instagram: Candice Swanepoel in 2014, Taylor Swift in 2015, Stella Maxwell in 2016, Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin) in 2017, Kate Upton in 2018, and Olivia Culpo in 2019. (The magazine skipped the issue in 2020 amid the pandemic.) You'll notice they all have one thing in common—they're all white women. Now, the 2021 crowning of Maxim's "Sexiest Woman Alive," which was announced on June 7, is changing that, marking a history-making moment for the magazine. To see the groundbreaking reveal of Maxim's first Black "Sexiest Woman Alive," read on.
Teyana Taylor is the first Black woman to be named Maxim's "Sexiest Woman Alive."
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Teyana Taylor is a singer, actor, dancer, choreographer, director, and model, to name a few of her many hats. Now, the 30-year-old mother of two is also Maxim's 2021 "Sexiest Woman Alive," and she's making history in the process.
Taylor was overwhelmed by the honor. "Somebody pinch me," she wrote on Instagram. "To be named the 'Sexiest Woman alive' by literally living in the skin I'm in. Wow."
Since Taylor has moved toward directing music videos, she said shifting to being the center of attention was a change for her. "Stepping back in front of the lens has been a journey of self-reflection and self-confidence. Living up to the name and title of this shoot wholeheartedly made me nervous," she wrote on Instagram.
Taylor was surprised the photographer wanted to do the shoot with her natural style.
Taylor is a busy working mom and wife—she has two daughters, five-year-old Junie and nine-month-old Rue, with her husband, former NBA star Iman Shumpert. So, as she wrote on Instagram, she tends to hide behind her sweatpants, T-shirts, glasses, and snapbacks, which doesn't give her much of an opportunity to feel sexy. However, the cover shoot for Maxim helped her embrace her natural style as exactly that.
"This particular day was dope because it made me see another side of myself," wrote Taylor, who went to the shoot after dropping her daughter off at school wearing sweatpants and a beanie with no hair and makeup done. When she arrived on set, photographer Gilles Bensimon said he wanted to photograph Taylor as she was because it was "pure." Taylor said that as confused as she was by his approach, her "heart also melted."
The experience had Taylor encouraging other people to love themselves for who they are.
The reason Taylor explained the background of her shoot was to emphasize that people should embrace their true selves. "I say all of this to say in the true words of Audrey Hepburn… 'The beauty of a woman is not in facial mode, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years,'" Taylor wrote, quoting the iconic actor.
She went on to remind her followers, "Embrace and love yourselves for who and what you are because only the purest heart shines through."
The Maxim Hot 100 List is filled with 99 other beautiful women.
Although Taylor was named Maxim's "Sexiest Woman Alive" for 2021, there are another 99 women the magazine honored on the Hot 100 list, like singers Megan Thee Stallion and Jennifer Lopez; models Irina Shayk and Cindy Kimberly; actor Eiza Gonzalez (pictured here); and professional fighter Mia Kang.