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Hunter McGrady is best known for gracing Sports Illustrated’s 2017 Swimsuit Issue. But Hunter, the curviest woman to appear in the Swimsuit Issue ever, had a hard road to travel on the way to those famous pages.
“I come from a long line of models,” explains Hunter. From early childhood, she assumed she would be one too. But as a teenager, she found herself working out four hours a day and eating little more than salad, “trying to fit these ideals.” The breaking point came when she was booking a modeling job and “They came up and said ‘We have to ask you to leave. We didn’t realize how big you were.’” At that point she was a size 2 and 5’11” tall.
Hunter realized there was another path when she saw an issue of Vogue Italia with plus-size models. She signed with Wilhelmina as a plus-size model and “it was just a constant stream of work.” In October she got the call models dream of – she had landed Sports Illustrated, and a flight to Anguilla was already being arranged for her. “I knew, not only what this meant for my career, but what this meant for women everywhere,” she says.
ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork asks about the “swimsuit” Hunter is wearing in her pics. Hunter confirms that that was no swimsuit! She was nude, with painstakingly applied body paint. “It took 12 hours!” she explains.
“I knew this was going to be something big for women and men everywhere,” Hunter says, “Because they were going to open Sports Illustrated, which is essentially the sexiest magazine that people see every year, and they were going to be able to resonate with someone. And men were going to be able to see someone that is a different size.” Hunter is a size 16, and she’s delighted by the response she’s been getting.