Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model says she wants to inspire other girls after being body shamed

Nina Agdal has zero regrets about speaking out after a magazine body shamed her.

Since the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model got personal on Instagram about her harrowing ordeal in 2018, the 27-year-old says she has a newfound purpose. Agdal is keeping busy these days encouraging other women to embrace their curves and so-called imperfections, particularly on social media. And according to Agdal, the responses she has received from people have only inspired her to change the way she approaches her career.


Agdal spoke to Fox News about how she deals with insecurities today, being discovered by SI and how she’s making a mark in the booming hard seltzer market with Pura Still.

Fox News: How do you stay in shape all year long?
Nina Agdal: I’m not going to lie, I do work out five to six times a week and I do that year-round. I think it's important to remember that working out and taking care of yourself should not be something that goes with the season of summer. It's a lifestyle and it's just pretty much something I do every day for my mental health, physical health. I just overall feel so much better when I stay active. So I try to do it yearly, every single day if I can, just for that purpose.

Fox News: When it’s your cheat day, what’s on your plate?
Agdal: I don't really have cheat days because everything I do is very much just all about balance and moderation. So even if I have a cheat meal, I don't like to think of it as a cheat meal. But... it would probably be pizza or a burger. But again, I don't think of it as something negative and I don't put myself down for eating it because I don't think that's healthy for anyone to do that.

Fox News: How were you discovered as a model?
Agdal: I was discovered back in Denmark. The first time was when I was 14 and then the second time I was 15 on the street for Elite Model Look, which is a competition they have every year. They scout girls in small towns... I didn't win [but] I ended up getting a contract for some reason. And then when I was 18 I moved to the States and that's where it really started happening.


Fox News: How did your relationship with Sports Illustrated begin?
Agdal: Sports Illustrated started ... Oh my God, is that seven years ago? I went to a casting, I met [editor] MJ [Day]... I got the call that I was up for my rookie shoot and that was the first year with them.

And then two years later I got the cover with Chrissy Tiegen and Lily Aldridge... I love Sports Illustrated Swimsuit... They supported me and they support other women. It's just incredible how they incorporate so many different body types and skin color and whatever it is. They just embrace every woman as we should.

Fox News: Take us back to the very first time you shot for them. How was it?
Agdal: I was so nervous. I remember I flew in and I think it was in Seychelles, which first of all I had never flown business before. So [during] my business class flight, I was like, "Oh my God, what's going on here?" And then I got there and I was just super nervous. I saw Alyssa Miller who was there to shoot before me and I was just like, "Oh my God, she's so beautiful." I definitely had a moment of being like, "Why am I here and how did I end up here?" But as soon as I got in front of the camera I was like, "Oh, this is fun." And then from there it just went on.

Fox News: What was your reaction when you saw the photos for the first time? 
Agdal: I was definitely like, "This is Sports Illustrated," I had never done anything like it. And my first phone call was to my mom. Just to make sure that she liked it and she was happy for me. Obviously she was so it was really exciting.


Fox News: The recent issues features fellow models Tyra Banks and Camille Kostek. What did you think of their covers?
Agdal: I think the fact that they had such different covers with [soccer star] Alex Morgan, Camille Kostek and Tyra Banks — that just shows Sports Illustrated is such a force in the industry. I still think there's a long way to go in the general industry but they're definitely the ones to really push it.

And they've made such a big difference. Like the fact that now we can see a size six or a size eight or a size 12 or whatever it is, and still be like, "That's beautiful." And for those women to feel accepted too in the world and in the industry is very important. So Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has made a huge impact on that. I wish more brands would do what they're doing and push for it... I'm really proud of them.

Fox News: Where does your confidence come from?
Agdal: I don't know where my confidence comes from... Some days I wake up and I'm feeling low and I don't feel great about myself. I think that's OK too. And then on other days, I'm... fun and happy Nina. But I think it just comes from a lot of years of just getting to know myself, doing what feels right, self-care and really practicing it every single day. And talking to yourself in a different way.

It really just takes yourself to stop when you do it and be like, "You know what? This is not OK. I wouldn't speak to anyone else like this so why am I even talking to myself like that?"... But that being said, there are days where I want to crawl into a hole and I don't feel great about myself... then I come out on the other side and I'm like, "OK, let's get after it.”


Fox News: As a model, how do you cope with social media trolls?
Agdal: Unfortunately, there are a lot of trolls out there and I see it on my social media. I see it on other people's social media, I see it on my friend's, who is not even in the public eye. The way I deal with it is if I have a witty, funny comeback that I think is appropriate, I like to just give it right back to them. If it's to a degree where I'm like, "This is straight-up bullying and just mean," then I personally delete, block them and just get them out of my world.

Fox News: How important has it been for you to show other girls that you can embrace your curves no matter your size?
Agdal: It’s definitely been super important for me to speak up about it. A little more than a year ago I had an incident where a magazine came out and said that I was too big for the magazine, the clothes, and I wasn't the image that they thought I was going to be. And that made me really upset, I hadn't spoken out about how I have been bullied or... body shamed, in the industry.

And just me speaking up about it... [a] number of women and parents and moms and girls are responding to it, saying, "Thank you so much for being open about this, the fact that you're dealing with it. I deal with this on an everyday basis and you speaking up is hopefully just going to try to make this world a better place in terms of this body shaming."

So if I can make one girl realize that because you're not a size zero, you're still just as beautiful and you're perfect the way you are, that makes my day. And the moms coming up to me and being like, "Thank you so much. I have a daughter and the fact that you're talking up about this and changing the perspective on it. That's really important." — that's just great.


Fox News: What’s the funniest or most outrageous thing you've had to do for a good photo?
Agdal: There are a couple of stories when it comes to that. One of them is shooting lingerie in negative degrees and snow outside, but I think that's kind of normal in the modeling industry to do that. I've done a shot with 50 turtles swimming around me. They were supposed to be really cute and harmless [but] they started chewing my fingers and my hair. The picture came out perfect so it was all worth it.

Fox News: What is it about Pura Still that made you want to become its brand ambassador?
Agdal: Pura Still was right up my alley. I obviously love a good time, I think you can see that from my social media and just from my lifestyle. But I also very much enjoy being healthy. And I'm very conscious about what I put in my body in terms of eating and drinking. When I'm having a good time I'm still thinking about it, so it just made total sense to partner up with Pura Still.

Fox News: What makes it different from anything else that’s out there?
Agdal: I... just think that it's so different because it's super refreshing, you don't feel bloated when you drink it. There are different flavors to it. So overall I just think it's a great product if you're trying to have a good lifestyle and a good time at the same time.