28 yr. old Ashley Graham has been selected to pose for this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover. Graham is joined by Hailey Clauson and athlete Ronda Rousey in the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Graham is not only a model, but an entrepreneur and body activist. According to her website, she is the co-founder of ‘ALDA, a collective of models that represents beauty beyond size and challenges conventional notions within the fashion industry.’
Graham, size 16, is recognized as a plus size model and is no stranger to weight critiques. Thus when it was announced that Graham would be gracing the cover of the SI Swimsuit Edition, some people had negative remarks. One of those remarks was made by former model Cheryl Tiegs.
Tiegs became an icon for 1970’s pop culture, continuously gracing magazine covers and television sets at that time. Tiegs, herself, is a two-time SI cover model. However, Tiegs was less than supportive when she discovered that Graham would appear on one of three 2016 SI Swimsuit Issue covers. During an interview with E!, Tiegs expressed her disapproval with the fashion industry’s interest in displaying more ‘full-figured’ models. Tiegs said this: “I don’t like that we’re talking about full-figured women, because it’s glamorizing them, because your waist should be smaller than 35 [inches].” However, the average size of women in America is 12-16 so Graham actually represents the average, healthy woman. Tiegs went onto say, “I don’t think it’s healthy. Her face is beautiful. Beautiful. But I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run.”
Despite the criticism Graham has remained strong and continues to remain thankful for her opportunity and fans. Supporters and fans alike have taken to social media to express their excitement with the 2016 Sports Illustrated cover.