After years of catering to the male gaze, the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition centers the women who grace its pages and celebrates the diversity of the female body. To do that, they recruited some model moms to show the unfiltered, natural beauty of motherhood. (Kim Kardashian, Ciara, and Maye Musk are the cover models!)
Katrina Scott and Hunter McGrady are just two of the mothers who posed for groundbreaking photo shoots — Scott at nearly seven months pregnant and McGrady at six months postpartum — and both hope to represent women creating life, embracing change, and tossing the phrase “bounce back” out of the window.
“We don’t necessarily celebrate the bump and celebrate all the changes our bodies are going through. It’s more celebrated if you look how you did before you got pregnant, and it just doesn’t sit right with me. That’s not going to be my story,” Scott, SI’s 2021 Rookie of the Year, tells Scary Mommy.
“That fourth trimester, I never want a woman to feel so much pressure to change herself to almost look like nothing had happened because something happened and it was a miracle,” she continues. “We should not be in a rush to go backwards; we should go forward and allow ourselves to be stronger than ever and find a new confidence, new curves, new clothes, new jeans! I don’t want my daughters to ever believe that narrative that used to be so common: Pregnancy ruins your body. It doesn’t. You’re creating life.”
Scott, 38, is mom to 3-year-old daughter Isabelle and is due to welcome another baby girl any day now. The Live Beautifully blogger and Tone It Up co-founder openly documented her IVF journey with husband Brian last year, detailing her diagnosis with secondary infertility, including two miscarriages and a chemical pregnancy, or a very early miscarriage that happens before the five-week mark. She announced her latest pregnancy on New Year’s Eve and posed for SI in St. Croix earlier this year.
“For the very first picture that we took in St. Croix, it was raining at sunrise,” Scott says of the shoot. “As soon as the rain cleared, we went down to the beach and there was a rainbow. And as you probably know, after loss it’s called ‘a rainbow baby,’ and that was the very first shot that we took that day. There was a beautiful rainbow behind me, so it was very cool.”
McGrady, who welcomed her son, Hudson Tynan, in June 2021, first posed for the Swimsuit issue in 2017 as SI’s “curviest model ever,” but this year was much more poignant for her as she sees her body in a whole new light.
“Every year I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I felt better than last year.’ And this year, I’m still saying it because I truly feel better than ever,” the plus-size model and body activist, 29, tells Scary Mommy.
“Before it was like, ‘How can I be the most sexy? How can I do this the most sexy way?’ And with this shoot it was really neat feeling beautiful and just being in the moment and really appreciating myself and my body,” she continues.
McGrady says Hudson was the biggest inspiration for her to say yes to the shoot in those early postpartum months, explaining, “I just thought of my son, who is such a beautiful little boy, and I thought, ‘This body created that body. So I’m going to go out and I’m going to be proud of it and I’m going to feel beautiful in my skin — knowing that I created his.’”
On top of Scott’s and McGrady’s photos, for the first time in SI’s 58-year history, model Kelly Hughes showed her C-section scar in honor of all those who bare them in the magazine’s pages. The inclusion of these women in the Swimsuit edition is a momentous moment for mothers everywhere, who no doubt work toward being appreciative of and empowered by their prenatal, pregnant, and post-birth bodies.
“The idea of being what you were before you had a baby for many is not realistic,” Hughes tells Scary Mommy. “In a sense we give birth to our new selves. It’s the journey that makes us who we are and that’s something to embrace and hold tightly no matter what stage we’re in. My son is now 3 years old, and I can proudly say today I look at my [C-section] scar and it was worth it, and I would do it all over again. It’s my story and I will wear it like a badge of honor for the rest of my life.”
McGrady agrees, calling the opportunity to “share the reality of what postpartum actually looks like” a privilege.
“I really want women to know that they’re still worthy. They’re so beautiful at every stage of their life, even postpartum,” she says. “And I know that society would want us to all believe that we have to go into hiding until we ‘bounce back’ into what our bodies were before, but it’s just not going to happen. We did the most spectacular thing in life, and we should be proud of ourselves. We’re truly superwomen.”
As Scott awaits the arrival of her new baby, she can’t help but feel grateful to SI Editor-in-Chief MJ Day for allowing her — and her fellow model mothers — the opportunity to share their stories. She’ll treasure this photo shoot as a keepsake for years to come.
“It will be very, very cool for my daughters, specifically, to see this one day and to think after everything that their mother had gone through that I still put on the bathing suit,” Scott says. “And I still had all my IVF shot bruises and in some of the pictures you can kind of see it — they’re behind me but they’re there. So I’m really happy that I had this opportunity and I hope that women out there that are also going through struggles see themselves within this issue and say, ‘OK, if she if she got through that I can, too.’”
The 2022 SI Swimsuit issue is now available.