Hunter McGrady talks body paint pics, being Sports Illustrated's 'curviest model'

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Hunter McGrady is being recognized as Sports Illustrated’s curviest swimsuit model — and she couldn’t be any prouder of the title.

“I love it, I’ll take it!” said the 23-year-old model to Fox News. “I’m so proud to be in this issue, which is the Body Diversity issue.”

The southern California native joined famous cover girls Kate Upton, Christie Brinkley and SI’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Bianca Balti in this year’s sizzling spread wearing nothing, but body paint. It took a team of several different women painting for over 12 hours to create the seemingly there suit before she frolicked on the beaches of Anguilla.


“There were so many layers of it that it actually felt like I was wearing a swimsuit,” recalled McGrady. “Me running up and down the beach in nothing, but body paint was nothing too out of the ordinary. You know, it was kind of freeing for me.”

But the road to SI wasn’t an easy one for McGrady. While she does come from a family of models, she described struggling to stay in shape in hopes of achieving similar success.

“When I was 16-year-old, I was a size 2. To give you a gauge of what that means is that I’m a size 16 right now,” she said. “I wouldn’t eat, I would work out for four hours a day — anything to try to keep down to that size.”

Despite her efforts, it still wasn’t enough to score gigs. McGrady described how, at a size 4, she was told at one prospective job where her mother accompanied the budding star that they didn’t realize how big she was, sending her home. At 16, McGrady felt her dreams to follow in her family’s footsteps were crushed — until she discovered the world of plus-size modeling.


“I kind of did some research about it and signed with Wilhelmina about two weeks later,” said McGrady. “And my career has just taken off ever since. It aligns with what I believe in, which is to love your body, embrace your God-given body.”

It was then that McGrady finally accepted her shape and learned to embrace her curves. Fame quickly came calling.

Thanks to some photographer friends over at Sports Illustrated that she encountered over the years, along with her determination to show the world that women can be desirable at any size, McGrady made a splash in this year’s Swim issue, which was released several months ago.

And like Ashley Graham before her, the demand for McGrady to showcase her natural curves is on the rise. While she couldn’t share with Fox News on the upcoming, exciting campaigns she has in store for fans quite yet, McGrady did confirm that Sports Illustrated will continue to embrace different shapes and sizes.

“They’re on the forefront of this insanely amazing revolution,” said McGrady. “They are breaking glass ceilings. This is only the beginning for them. I truly think so.”