The Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition issued three digital covers featuring Black women, each making history as they pose. Megan Thee Stallion, Naomi Osaka, and Leyna Bloom were selected for the annual issue, each landing their own spread. The three diverse women made a landmark achievement in their careers and culturally.
The tennis star became the first Haitian and first Japanese woman, and first Black female athlete on the coveted cover. Megan Thee Stallion became the first rapper to grace the magazine, and Leyna Bloom is the first transgender woman to land the always-anticipated issue.
— Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (@SI_Swimsuit) July 19, 2021
“If there’s one thing that our cover models have in common, it’s that they don’t have one thing in common. They look different, have different upbringings, have different passions and inspirations. But each is a reminder that beauty comes in many forms,” said MJ Day, editor-in-chief of SI swimsuit.
Bloom, an actress and model, is also the first Black transgender woman to ever appear in the magazine, not just the cover. She shared a heartfelt post, celebrating the magnitude of the moment on Instagram declaring, “this moment heals a lot of pain in the world.”
She wrote, “I have dreamt a million beautiful dreams, but for girls like me, most dreams are just fanciful hopes in a world that often erases and omits our history and even existence. This moment is so powerful because it allows me to live forever even after my physical form is gone. Not a lot of people get to live in the future, so at this moment, I’m proudly choosing to live forever.”
“I dedicate this cover to all ballroom femme queens past, present and future. This historical moment is important to #girlslikeus because it allows us to live and be seen. Many girls like us don’t have the chance to live our dreams or to live long at all. I hope my cover empowers those, who are struggling to be seen, feel valued. Let me be a messenger guiding us to a future of respect and appreciation for all women in all forms and from all walks of life,” the post continued.
Osaka has recently made headlines for withdrawing from the French Open. As VIBE previously reported, the 23-year-old decided not to compete after her refusal to do post-match interviews caused controversy.
“There’s no question that Naomi is one of the best athletes in the world, and a cover spot felt obvious. She’s spent her formative years racking up titles and is headed to the Olympics. But we celebrate Naomi for her passion, strength and power geared towards consistently breaking barriers when it comes to equality, social justice, and mental health,” explained Day.
First Haitian and Japanese woman on the cover ????❤️ pic.twitter.com/SLcKNSrSkH
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) July 19, 2021
Megan Thee Stallion continues to have a landmark year in her rap career. Winning the 2021 Grammy Award for Best New Artist among other trophies, the Houston rapper, 26, recently celebrated her debut album Good News earning platinum status.
“This is my first platinum album and I’m so proud! I made [a] majority of this album in my living room during quarantine and to see it really do it’s thing makes me so happy!” she shared on Instagram.
For the cover of Sports Illustrated and the accompanying spread, the “Hot Girl Summer” rapper wore swimsuits from her second collection with fast-fashion retailer Fashion Nova.
“Shooting the cover made me feel really empowered and happy,” she told CNN. “It made me feel good to know that women who have bodies like me can be celebrated. Not just the standard types that we have seen before.”