Sports Illustrated goes full woke with ‘diverse’ swim search finalists featuring models’ ‘curvy beauty’

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Sports Illustrated has announced its finalists for the woke and diverse 2022 Swim Search, illustrating that beauty is in the eye of the beholder with some of the contestants being more than memorable for their looks and their girth, engendering in some awe while in others revulsion.

There are 14 finalists who are competing for a single spot in the Swimsuit Issue. The one chosen will get to pose with some of the world’s most stunning models.

The field is indeed diverse including a 42-year-old breast cancer survivor, an astrophysicist, and an ICU nurse. Fans on Twitter are picking their favorites and Sports Illustrated claims the finalists “inspire action throughout their communities.”

Radio host Andrew Wilkow was not impressed, tweeting, “The @SInow Swimsuit Issue is 100% woke again this year. Who is the readership of Sports Illustrated? Are regular guys like ‘bring on the ’empowering changemakers’! Who misses the plastic football phone?”

Despite a number of the finalists being overweight, the media is drooling over their professed beauty, not to mention their differing backgrounds.

Michelle F. Steffan is from Argentina. The “curvy beauty” became a lawyer before she decided to pursue modeling full time.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes because I wasn’t used to seeing curvy models in my home country or pretty much anywhere,” she told People.

Gigi Robinson, who is 23, is an American content creator who boasts a massive following on TikTok.

She is a USC graduate and a health advocate who is not only overweight but chronically ill with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which is a rare illness that affects the connective tissue in the body.

(Video Credit: Gigi Robinson)


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Hillory Fields is a black plus-size model. She is proud that she was named after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

She works as an ICU nurse in Los Angeles. Fields also developed an app for fatigued medical staff to review and rate hospitals where they’ve worked.

Hannah Godwin is 27 and from Alabama. She was a contestant on “The Bachelor.” She lives in Los Angeles and has a staggering following of 1.5 million Instagram fans.

She is currently dating entrepreneur Dylan Barbour.


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Ashley N. Byrd is from Louisiana. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. She now lives in Los Angeles and is modeling full-time.

Kelly Crump, who is now 42, is the oldest among the finalists. She is a breast cancer survivor and is from London with a huge following on Instagram.

Crump has endured six surgeries and 60 rounds of chemotherapy. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 and it metastasized to other parts of her body including her lung, neck, armpit, spine, and ribs.

Mady Dewey is from California. She is a leading podcaster and TikTokker.

She founded Herd Social, which Sports Illustrated describes as “a pressure-free photo-sharing platform for Gen Z women and non-binary people.”


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Drew Dorsey, who is 28, is from Los Angeles and is an influencer with over 98,000 followers on Instagram.

Her bachelor’s degree is in communications and she is an aspiring entertainment journalist.

“Y’all listen, I don’t mean to preach, but please please don’t ever give up on your dreams. This was my second year auditioning and look what happened because I didn’t give up,” she told her followers on Instagram.


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A post shared by Drew Dorsey (@drew__dorsey)

Victoria Vesce is from Florida and is also a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor while in college. She beat the odds after undergoing a life-threatening surgery.

She now practices law in Boca Raton.


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Manju Bangalore is a physicist from California. She has worked for NASA and aspires to be an astronaut.

She founded a “menstrual health nonprofit” in 2015,” which has supplied over 200,000 menstrual products to those in need.

Nicole Petrie takes care of her mother who is afflicted with FTD (Frontal Temporal Degeneration). She posts about the disorder on Instagram.

She is a “model, activist, caregiver and vegan.”


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Ashley Callingbull is 32 and hails from Canada. She is the first indigenous woman to be included in Sports Illustrated’s Swim Search. She is from the Enoch Cree Nation in the province of Alberta.

“For a lot of my life, a lot of the things that I’ve had to chase, they weren’t open to me because I’m an Indigenous woman, whether that be acting or modeling,” she told E! News in 2021.

Sarafina Nance is from California. She is an analog astronaut who has completed a Mars astronaut simulation.

Nance also had a double mastectomy when she was 26 after being diagnosed with the cancer-causing BRCA2 genetic mutation.


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Lotta Hintsa is from Finland but was raised in Ethiopia.

She is a high-altitude and endurance athlete.


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A post shared by Lotta Hintsa | Climber (@lottahintsa)

It will be fascinating to see who wins the “diverse” Sports Illustrated competition.


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