Lorena Duran still can’t believe she’s now officially a rookie.
The Spanish model is featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s 2020 issue, which is now on newsstands. The magazine featured Olivia Culpo, Kate Bock and Jasmine Sanders at this year’s coveted cover girls.
“It’s like reaching the ultimate dream, the biggest dream I’ve ever had,” the Seville native told Fox News. “It was one of my goals. I still can’t believe the pictures are out there. The first person I called was my mom. She’s been supporting me all the time. And when she saw the pictures, [her response was], ‘Oh my gosh Lorena, you are like, so sexy!’ I’m so happy for you.' I worked so hard for this goal and I finally got it.”
The 25-year-old, who is best known as the first curvy model to be used in a Victoria’s Secret campaign, said she didn’t want her photos, which were taken on Scrub Island in the Caribbean, to be edited. She hopes the images will encourage other women to celebrate their bodies, no matter their size.
“I’ve never visited Scrub Island before - it was like a paradise,” she explained. “I love the sea, I love the beach. I love the summertime, so it was a perfect location for me. When the team asked me if I preferred the pictures with… [my] stretch marks, I said, ‘Yes, of course.’ Because it’s real for me. It’s my history. And when I see the picture… the picture is Lorena. And for me, [that’s] super important.”
But Duran insisted that frolicking on the island for her big debut was far from simple. The pinup, who credits dancing every morning “for five minutes” to have “good energy,” shared she broke a sweat as soon as she woke up to shake off the jitters.
“I wake up in the morning - too early - because I feel in this moment so [excited] for the day,” Duran recalled. “[At the shoot] I danced. It made me feel super confident… It’s my secret.”
And the day wasn’t always smooth sailing. At one point, it started to rain and everyone huddled under a palm tree. But for Duran, she insisted it was all just “a dream.”
Duran first embarked in the fashion world at age 17. Once she completed her studies as a chemical laboratory technician, she began pursuing modeling, something she’s always envisioned doing. It was her mother who first took her to castings in Seville.
But Duran’s modeling career was nearly put on pause. She said a “metabolic problem,” caused her to gain weight, which led to many modeling agencies rejecting her because she was "too fat."
“When I looked in the mirror, I said to myself, ‘Lorena, you are the same person,’” she explained. “‘The only difference is your body. But your dream is the same. You can still try and try.’ But the [agencies] when they saw me for the first time, they would say, ‘Lorena, you are so beautiful, but you are too fat for my collection or my show.’ My reaction was, ‘What?’ Because I am really so happy with my body.”
“But one day, my booker in Spain said, ‘Lorena, there’s something called ‘curve modeling.’ You start now, trust me.' And I started modeling with my new body.”
Duran said it was one of the many reasons she was drawn to SI Swimsuit.
“It’s important for you women to see all different kinds of women,” she shared. “They can look up to them, people can identify with that. They… can see themselves… And there’s not only one kind of beauty that comes in one size. For me, it’s important to have that diversity.”
Today, Duran hopes SI’s 2020 issue will further encourage women to embrace their bodies and see for themselves that beauty does not come in one size.
“For me, just love your body,” she said. “It’s beautiful when you love yourself.”