The cover of the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was officially revealed Saturday night during a live television special on TNT, and the magazine is doing something it’s never done before — releasing the issue with not one, but three different covers.
After last year’s controversial (and amazeballs) Hannah Davis mons pubis cover, this year the three covers are toned down quite a bit despite one of them showing a heck of a lot more skin than Hannah did last year — this time in the form of UFC fighter Ronda Rousey appearing on one version completely nude and covered in nothing but body paint.
But the cover featuring the world’s most popular pugilist isn’t the one everyone’s talking about.
That honor belongs to size 16 model Ashley Graham, the first full-figured, plus-size — whatever you want to call it — model to ever grace a SI Swimsuit Issue cover. In fact, the 28-year-old Graham said after the big reveal that she was going to celebrate by going to “eat a burger”.
“I am so hungry,” she told People magazine. “You have no idea. I want a burger and fries.”
Graham, one of this year’s class of “rookies”, and Rousey are joined by another rookie, Hailey Clauson, whose cover aligns more with those of years past — the typical size zero model figure wearing little more than a pair of bikini bottoms and the proverbial hand bra.
“I think every little girl has somebody to relate to in the issue and every woman stands for something and it’s not just a model,” Clauson, 20, said about the issue in an interview with People. “Everybody has a personality.”
“To have somebody who has cellulite, who has things that jiggle, who has back fat and actually talk about them and talk about how you can be an overcome and not let society take you down for all of that — that’s real and that’s what we need in this society,” Graham said about the honor. “We need women talking about the things that they’re doing and how they’re changing the world and not judging them only on the outside.”
Rousey, 29, added, “This is like a dream I forgot to have and ended up having it anyway. And it really is just an honor to be in a real historical issue like this that is celebrating all body types of women.”
While the magazine has featured a section of fully nude models covered only in body paint, Rousey is the first painted lady to feature on one of the covers.
Nick Cannon and former SI cover girl Rebecca Romijn hosted the half-hour special, “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2016 Revealed”, on Saturday night.