Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue looks a little different this year.
Kate Upton is back on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit—times three. For the first time ever, SI has released three national covers of the annual edition.
The blonde bombshell announced the news on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. It's Upton's third time on the cover, after previously gracing it in 2012 and 2013.
Upton has been labeled "curvy" by modeling industry standards. That makes her the perfect face for this year's issue, which features more women of different body types—and different ages—than ever before. In fact, the tagline for this year’s issue is: "Every body, Every age, Every beautiful."
In addition to Upton, Christie Brinkley, 63, appears with her daughters. So does rookie model Mia Kang, who has a masters in finance from the University of London and is a dedicated muy Thai fighter. Tennis star Serena Williams shows off her strong muscles, along with gold medal gymnasts Aly Raisman and Simone Biles. And there are five mothers (one expecting!) in the magazine, including 32-year-old rookie Bianca Balti, a mom of two.
Believe it or not, the person behind SI Swimsuit is a woman: MJ Day, who started as an editorial assistant at the magazine 19 years ago, and has been editing the issue for six years. Every year, Day works to capture the interesting back stories of the women featured. "Its so important to me as the editor of this franchise to expose people to the many different layers that are a part of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit,” Day said, which is why she organizes digital features, video, and more beyond the physical issue to emphasize that the women are really “three-dimensional.”
“A swimsuit model is not just a model,” Day said. “She is a mother, an entrepreneur, an activist, a tastemaker, a wife and she has life issues and goals like every woman out there.”
Since the issue marks Swimsuit’s most inclusive yet, Health is partnering with Sports Illustrated and @WomenIRL, an Instagram community devoted to authenticity, to celebrate confidence, beauty, and more. (Sports Illustrated, @WomenIRL, and Health are all owned by parent company Time Inc.) The women featured in the magazine are still beautiful models in bathing suits—but so much progress has been made in the last five decades, and we applaud that.
“We are, on the surface, the very obvious representation of what people expect: beautiful women in exotic locations creating fantastic imagery. But we are more than that. This is a springboard—for ideas, for messages,” said Day.
So starting today, we’ve launched the “What I Model” campaign. To participate, take a video of yourself, in your swimsuit, filling in the blank: “I model ____.” Maybe you model strength for your daughter. Maybe you model resilience. Maybe you model healthy living in a stressful world.
Keep the video under a minute, and post it to Instagram with the hashtags #WhatIModel and #LoveYourSwimsuit. Check the @WomenIRL feed daily for inspiration from other women in the community, as well as women featured in this year’s Swimsuit issue.
To kick us off, Day has posted her video to Instagram (featured with her adorable toddler). Watch her clip, and post your response. The issue hits newsstands today, and you can see for yourself what Day has achieved this year.