Ronda Rousey, Ashley Graham and Hailey Clauson are the cover stars of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, in three separate covers. See all of the covers and more photos of the three gorgeous and lucky women chosen for this year’s history-making edition.
Yes, it’s groundbreaking and it’s getting a lot of buzz as it marks the first time three covers have represented such a diversity of body types. All three covers and stars were announced on live television in an event airing after the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. They are UFC superstar, 29-year-old Ronda Rousey, and two models; 28-year-old Ashley Graham, and 20-year-old Hailey Clauson.
Ronda Rousey was previously revealed to be among those were featured in the new issue and this year marks her second appearance in the magazine. For her cover she’s wearing a brightly colored painted-on swimsuit reminiscent of tattoo art as she gives a seductive gaze to the camera.
Rousey’s been constantly in the news since her shocking loss to Holly Holm in the UFC bantamweight championship last October. She was also a host of Saturday Night Live earlier this year, and gave a gracious nod to Holm in the opening monologue. Now, more exposure, literally, in these months leading up to her much-anticipated comeback.
She said, “It’s a real honor being part of such a historic issue that really pays homage to different body types of women and not promoting just one cookie cutter image for every woman, but showing that the healthiest version of every body type is the sexiest version out there.”
As for Ashley Graham, she’s an historic first. The well-known and outspoken model is a size 14, or a “plus size” although the term is controversial these days and she herself, in interviews, has voiced her displeasure with it. Either way, she’s gracing the cover in a purple string bikini showing off her ample curves to full effect. She’s also making headlines as one of the models featured in the trailblazing ‘Swimsuits for All’ ads which are also in the SI issue, alongside 56-year-old model Nicola Griffin as well as Philomena Kwao.
Graham took to Instagram to express her excitement, saying in part, “Truly speechless!!! This cover is for every woman who felt like she wasn’t beautiful enough because of her size. You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to.”
Hailey Clauson’s cover is the raciest of the three covers as she poses topless with her hand strategically placed and just barely covering her breasts. She’s more of a newcomer and has sent people to Google and find out more about her. At age 20, she’s already a veteran fashion model having gotten her start on the catwalk at age 15, according to People which was a bit of a problem as the CDFA had just passed a rule that models had to be 16. The celebrity news outlet goes on to break a few heart by revealing that she’s got a boyfriend; Julian Herrera, a model, personal trainer and boxing instructor.
Clauson said on Instagram, of the honor, in part, “[H]onestly words can’t describe how grateful I am. I have worked my butt off and never gave up on my dream!”
And that’s our trio for this year. Yes, the SI Swimsuit issue is a tradition that’s gone on more than 50 years, and the pop culture climate and the political milieu have changed dramatically since those first issues way back in the 1960s. And as they say, the times, they are a changing. Who knows if SI will hit the centennial mark! But for now you can see Sports Illustrated cover photos and video below!