This year an array of stunning, scantily-clad models grace the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue—much like they have for more than half a century. But this time around, the beautiful woman we’re most in awe of isn’t a model.
As Sports Illustrated‘s Swimsuit Issue director, MJ Day spends most of her time surrounded by nearly-naked models, though she says she’s never felt confident in her own body. But that has all changed.
To honor the latest issue’s celebration of women of all sizes, Day decided to come out from behind the glossy pages and make a statement about body confidence. In a brilliant, empowering, and downright endearing move, the working mom took to Instagram in her own bikini.
“Funny how I have spent my life on a beach since childhood and I have never truly felt comfortable in a swimsuit. Even at my thinnest,” Day wrote alongside the video of herself holding her two-year-old son. “We need to love ourselves in the present. No matter what.”
“I’ve been producing the annual Swimsuit issue for 19 years, but today I’m the one in a bathing suit, and here’s why,” she says in the video. “This year’s issue will showcase the widest diversity of women in SI history. Women of all ages, and shapes, and from many different backgrounds.”
As the issue makes its way to newsstands, Day and @WomenIRL are encouraging women to post their own bikini videos.
“We want to celebrate strength, beauty, and more, so we want to know: What do you model? So I’ll kick us off. I model determination. I’m determined to get out the message that there is not a singular definition of beauty.”
We couldn’t agree more. The Swimsuit issue is arriving on newsstands now. (Southern Living and Sports Illustrated are both Time Inc. properties.)