‘Sports Illustrated’ Curviest Model Ever Hunter McGrady on How She ‘Started Loving’ Her Stretch Marks

Donna Freydkin

Yes, that’s Hunter McGrady, sporting only body paint in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. The entire process took 12 hours from start to finish, and the end result is sensational.

“I didn’t feel like I was naked at all. But I was 100 percent naked. You have to own it,” she tells Yahoo Style.

Why does this matter? Because McGrady takes the size zero model mandate and stomps it into oblivion in her ultrasexy spread. She’s 5’11”, with a bust measuring 45 inches and a 38-inch waist, per her Wilhelmina Models stats. And this makes her the curviest model ever featured in the annual swimsuit issue.

“I want women to pick up what is the considered the sexiest magazine issue and feel inspired. There’s someone in it who looks like them, who isn’t the traditional model they see. Every body type is beautiful,” says McGrady. “I felt sexy and confident. Not despite of my body but because of my body.”

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McGrady, who has been everything from a size 4 to a size 18, was born and raised in Southern California, the daughter of a former model and an actor father. She’s gorgeous, but says she only started to get major work when she learned about plus-size modeling.

“I showed up to a photo shoot when I was 16, and I was a size 4. They turned me away and told me they didn’t realize how big I was. I was so upset that they were criticizing my body. And I realized that this is not for me,” she says. “I started loving my stretch marks. They meant I was growing taller and getting my hips. I have cellulite. I have rolls. So do the majority of women in the world. I’m not going to be upset about my body.”

She remembers going on trips around the world where she wouldn’t allow herself a single bite of pasta, because she had to stay slender. Not anymore. “I have one life, and I am going to enjoy it. It’s as simple as that. I’m going to enjoy my body and nourish it and feed it good food. I won’t sit back and let people tell me how to dress or look or what to eat,” she says.

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The subject of inclusion is topical, especially given that New York Fashion Week just wrapped up and some designers — most notably Christian Siriano — were hailed for featuring models of all shapes and sizes in their shows. Plus, Vogue put Ashley Graham on its beauty cover; she also walked in the Michael Kors show.

“I cannot tell you how excited I am to be on board at this time in history. Things are changing. I’d love to be able to shop with my smaller-sized girlfriends together and enjoy that experience, instead of going to a different floor,” she says.

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