Another Sports Illustrated first: Swimsuit model bares C-section scar in photo shoot, stands by actions

(Video Credit: WTHR)

Kelly Hughes is the first Sports Illustrated model to bare her cesarean-section scar after giving birth for a photo spread and she isn’t afraid to respond to the few viewers out there who seem to have a problem with it.

It’s part of the partnership between Frida Mom and Sports Illustrated to raise awareness in connection to Pay With Change, which is an initiative aimed to “positively shift the mainstream cultural narratives associated with women’s bodies – especially when becoming a mom.”

Hughes’ son is three-years-old and was delivered by C-section. Her scar is low enough to typically hide except in the skimpiest of bikinis. She apparently is making a statement for other moms who carry the scars of childbirth and is saying they shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

Her feature in Sports Illustrated is in line with Katrina Scott, 2021’s Rookie of the Year, who was photographed when she was six and a half months pregnant, and Hunter McGrady, who posed for Sports Illustrated six months postpartum.


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A post shared by Kelly Hughes (@kellyhues)

The mother and model donned a nude-hued skimpy string bikini for the 2022 issue. Also included in the 2022 issue were Kim Kardashian, Maye Musk, Ciara, and Yumi Nu as this year’s cover girls.

HÜES partnered with ESTAS Beauty to launch the #ScarLoveChallenge on social media after Hughes’ pic went viral. They sought to “spread a feeling of empowerment and change the societal stigma around scars. The challenge encourages participants to reinterpret Hughes’ photo showing off their scars. Every time a #ScarLoveChallenge photo is posted, ESTAS will donate $1 to World of Children, helping disadvantaged children around the globe,” according to Fox News.

Hughes responded after Fox News asked her about critics who have said, “SI Swimsuit is a magazine of women in bikinis. Do we really need to see this?”

The media outlet asked her what she would say to them in response to that sentiment.


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A post shared by Kelly Hughes (@kellyhues)

“It’s interesting, I was shocked that about 99% of people that reached out to me have been supportive. Even the press I received after my photo went viral was supportive. Sure, sometimes people like to make their comments – it is Instagram – but I’ve gotten an overwhelming number of positive comments from both men and women,” she stated. “Of course, you still get comments like ‘who cares?’ or ‘she’s half-naked’ or ‘we don’t want to see this’ – all those comments are generic. And the truth is, there will always be people out there who want to dim your light.”

“All I can say is I don’t understand how someone can make negative comments, especially on someone’s social media posts,” Hughes commented. “There’s no need for it. You don’t gain anything from that. But the overwhelming amount of positive comments from people proves that something like this was needed. This is about representation. Think about those mothers out there with C-section scars wearing a bikini at the beach. Sometimes it peeks out.”

She went on to explain that her efforts are to help women who feel insecure about wearing a bikini because of their C-section and that it shouldn’t be that way.


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A post shared by Kelly Hughes (@kellyhues)

“I’ve received so many messages from women telling me they’ve felt so insecure going to the beach that they buy a bigger bikini or just choose to wear a one-piece to avoid the scrutiny. They go out of their way to not show the scar because they’re insecure about it. They’re worried about what people may say or think,” the mother and model pointed out. ” Now, Sports Illustrated is having that conversation. It was so needed. You shouldn’t need to accommodate everyone else just so they can feel better. You’re so much more than any negative comment someone may have to say.”

“Now, I’m getting messages from women telling me how empowered they feel, and how confident they feel to wear that bikini again after having a baby. I hope that when people see my photo, they’ll feel encouraged to embrace themselves and give themselves grace. I look at my scar now, and I’m proud of what I went through. I embrace it. I’m still here. And that’s exactly what my photo shows. I just hope it can encourage others to feel the same,” Hughes concluded.

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