Model Myla Dalbesio is heating things up as one of Sports Illustrated’s newest Rookies for their coveted Swimsuit issue and she’s using the unique platform to spread her message on body positivity.
“For a long time, many people were of this point of view, like ‘Shut up and do your job’” Dalbesio told FOX News. “Now more than ever, it’s important to continue to fight for women’s rights and to use your voice.”
Dalbesio previously stirred headlines when she starred as the face of Calvin Klein as their first-ever plus sized model. In addition, she’s also a self-described feminist artist and has taken self-portraits for Playboy Magazine, which appeared in their first non-nude issue.
These days, Dalbesio wants to use her growing success in the fashion world to raise awareness on women’s rights, encouraging them to celebrate their bodies at any shape.
“Being outspoken about women’s issues is kind of a new thing, specifically when it comes to models that are working within the public sphere,” said the Wisconsin native. “It feels very exposing, I have to say.”
“All of a sudden your Instagram audience is growing exponentially,” she said. “There’s a flood of critiques coming into your world. It can be very off-putting. I think it’s hard not to internalize the opinions that you may receive. That’s part of the challenge of putting yourself in the public eye.”
However, Dalbesio isn’t taking her growing fame for granted.
“We’re seeing more women of different shapes and sizes and of ethnicities…but we haven’t reached the peak of the mountain yet. There’s still a long way to go. By continuing to use my body [I say] as a tool, we are furthering this kind of momentum," she explained.
Dalbesio also admitted that she's empowered to appear in spreads involving nudity or figure-revealing skimpy swimsuits, as seen in her latest photos for SI where she happily frolics on the beach — and she hopes other women will feel just as confident about their shape.
“I struggled with body image issues in the past and it’s something I’ve overcome,” explained Dalbesio. “And now, I’m in a place where I feel stronger than ever…when I’m using myself in its truest and purest form as a tool, it feels so empowering.
She also credits her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer when Dalbesio was young, and battled the disease for five years before passing away, as a source of inspiration.
“Even though I watched her pass away, I saw how strong she was during her fight,” explained Dalbesio. “I remember her as very loving, as very supportive, and as a very strong woman who was there for us in every way I could imagine.”
Now that Dalbesio has achieved one of the biggest accomplishments for any model, she's ready for her next challenge — one that she's been preparing for her whole life.
“I hope that I can encourage women to continue to see the light in each other and bring each other up and band together."