The mogul and reality star, who has perfected the art of the bikini selfie for her 311 million Instagram followers, was photographed by Greg Swales in the Dominican Republic for her SI Swimsuit moment, posing fresh faced in a nude SKIMS bikini and matching sheer gloves — yes, gloves with a bikini, because it wouldn't be a Kim cover without a styling choice bound to go viral.
"The journey we've been on — to break out of the mold the world put us in — may sound familiar. It's certainly familiar to the women we've chosen to be our cover models: Maye, Ciara, Yumi, Kim," MJ Day, editor in chief of SI Swimsuit, said in a statement. "At course, Kim, no stranger to the world's judgment, continues to live proudly, authentically and unapologetically through the noise."
The 2022 issue continues to build on SI Swimsuit's platform of diversity and empowerment, featuring 28 beautiful women including WNBA stars Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, newcomers Duckie Thot, Kamie Crawford and Olivia Ponton as well as former cover models Camille Kostek, Leyna Bloom and Kate Bock.
Greg Swales/Sports Illustrated
For her cover story, Kardashian, 41, writes a letter to her younger self about the personal growth she's experienced.
"It's easy to say to just ignore the criticism, but another thing you'll learn is that at some point it will click in your head that it's not about you anymore," she writes. "It's about family. It's about helping other people. For years you'll be putting yourself out there… But you're going to become a more private person and you're going to come to realize that the way to get your story out there—the actual narrative, the truth—isn't by engaging but by doing."
The mom of four — daughters North, 8, and Chicago, 4, and sons Saint, 6, and Psalm, 3 with ex-husband Kanye West — adds that part of her journey is a constant evolution to strive to learn and achieve more.
"But know this. When you get here, to May 2022, you're not going to be content. You're still going to be looking for that next "it…And when you find it, you're going to do it — we're going to do it —like we always do: to the fullest."
Commenting on her model moment, Kardashian told SI, "I vividly remember Tyra Banks on the cover and women with curves, I remember thinking that was just so cool. But I still thought you had to be a professional model and a runway model."
"It was always really young girls. I don't want to date myself or sound old," she continued. "But in my 40s? That's crazy! I never thought in a million years that I would be shooting one myself."
Kardashian's SI Swimsuit cover marks another major career moment for the star in a string of recent highlights including passing the baby bar exam, hosting Saturday Night Live and launching her SKIMS swimwear line (which sold out in minutes). She's also learning how to style herself and navigating her own path in the industry since her split from West.
"I'm trying to figure out, who am I in the fashion world, or who am I by myself?," Kardashian revealed on a recent episode of Hulu's The Kardashians. "I was always 'The Kardashians' with my sisters, and then I was 'Kimye.' Like, who is Kim K? That is the jump. How do I get there without Kanye?"
On becoming more confident in her skin, she continued, "I'm finally stepping out, like, I can do this."
The 2022 Issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit is available on newsstands May 19.