Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue models tell critics that women can ‘feel sexy and feel empowered’

Aly Raisman (Instagram)

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model Danielle Herrington has responded to criticism over her involvement with the annual publication in the midst of the #MeToo movement. In an interview with AOL’s Build Series on Thursday, Herrington, the issue’s third-ever black cover model, appeared alongside Brenna Huckaby, a Paralympian and the first amputee to be featured in the magazine’s swimsuit edition.

“I can be in a swimsuit and feel sexy and feel empowered,” said Herrington. “I feel like all the girls in the world, and anybody else, should be able to express themselves the way they want to and still be respected for it.”

“Nothing has changed with me except for how I feel about myself,” noted Huckaby. “And if you can’t understand that then you’re missing the whole point of Sports Illustrated swimsuit.”

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THANK YOU @si_swimsuit for having me on your COVER. This is my first cover ever and I am beyond speechless! I dedicate this to all the young girls out there. Work hard, surround yourself with good people who believe in you and your DREAMS WILL COME TRUE! To @mj_day and your amazing team at @si_swimsuit #FamilyForever, thank you! To my my parents, family and friends, I LOVE YOU, thank you! To my agent @sandrasperka thank you for not only being the best agent, but also my mentor and friend! To @bodybymato for supporting me for the last 2 years and always being there for me! To my agency @women360mgmt you guys are the bomb! I am the luckiest and most grateful girl DREAM BIG. WORK HARD. BE RESPECTFUL. LOVE EACH OTHER. OWN IT!

A post shared by Danielle Herrington (@danielle_herrington_) on

Former gold medal winning gymnast Aly Raisman, who posed nude for the issue with phrases such as “Trust yourself,” “Abuse is never okay,” and “Women do not have to be modest to be respected” written on her body, told People Now that she had endured “devastating” accusations of hypocrisy just a month after she testified before her abuser, former sports doctor Larry Nassar.

“I actually had somebody say something to me a couple months ago, saying, ‘I don’t understand how you can complain that you were molested, because you participated in Sports Illustrated swimsuit,’” said Raisman, 23. “It doesn’t matter. I just don’t understand and it really makes me — it’s devastating. I can’t even tell you how many people have told me that when they were raped, they were asked, ‘Well, what were you wearing?’ It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. It’s never, ever okay.”

“As women, you know we’re always taught, in my opinion, to be ashamed of our bodies and everyone’s always telling us [that] it’s better to cover up,” she added. “You can be sexy, you can be wearing a sexy bikini, you can still be smart, powerful, have a voice. You can still be advocating for change, you can still be a good person, you can still be respected.”

In the #MeToo era, what do you think about the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Vote in our poll.

Watch an excerpt of Herrington and Huckaby’s interview with AOL Build below.

Read the full story at Yahoo News and People magazine.


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