Yumi Nu becomes Sports Illustrated’s first Asian curvy model: ‘We are worthy'

Megan Sims
·4 min read

Model Yumi Nu is making history.

On Thursday, Nu, who is Japanese and Dutch, took to social media to announce that she is the first curvy Asian model to pose for Sports Illustrated. Her spread is set to appear in the 2021 swimsuit issue.

"Secrets out!!! I’m a 2021 @si_swimsuit Rookie! What an incredible honor it is to be in such an inclusive and beautiful magazine that has pushed the envelope since day 1. I’m so proud to be making history as the first Asian curve Sports Illustrated model. Thank you to my team @jonilaninyc @pheeeeeeeebssss @thesocietynyc for being the most incredible agents and to the amazing team at @si_swimsuit @mj_day @jo.giunta @margotzamet for making this happen! An incredible day with our amazing crew who had me laughing all day, photo by legendary @yutsai88 and best hair and makeup by @djquintero and @rebeccaalexandermakeup," she wrote.

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In a second post, Nu shared a video from her shoot and thanked SI for allowing her to "tell my story."

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"I’ve grown very passionate in recent years in talking about the body shame that Asian women and women in general go through, because it was something that was very difficult for me growing up," she said. "I don’t want anyone to go through life with the lie that they aren’t enough as they are. It stops us from living our fullest lives. WE ARE WORTHY!!! WE ARE DESERVING OF GOOD THINGS!!! LETS GO!!!"

Model friends and fans took to the comments to share their excitement about Nu's announcement.

"I’m so proud of you, so excited for you to be in this it is so needed. You are wonderful. Welcome to the family angel," model Hunter McGrady praised.

"Making history, baby!" model Tanaye White said.

"Beautiful," a fan wrote.

"ICON ICON ICON," one person added.

"I'm a curve model similar to your shape...I am so over the moon excited to see you as one of their models!!! I'm a huge fan now, Thank you for being a rock star in that bikini. Head to toe beauty, strength and confidence," someone noted.

Sports Illustrated posted a quote by the magazine's editor MJ Day on their social media, with Day saying Nu "possesses the most amount of confidence and appreciation for herself and body that we’ve seen."

"She doesn’t hold herself to any traditional beauty standards and is gracefully unapologetic for seeing herself as a powerful, beautiful, sensual woman," Day said. "She shows up for women in a strong way and is on a mission to end the conversation around limiting women in the industry. Not only is she stunning, and an extraordinary model, but she radiates warmth and the kind of energy that we always want around. Yumi's photos are some of my favorites and so is she!”

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In a recent interview with People, Nu explained where her confidence comes from.

"I feel the most confident when I'm grounded in the belief that my worthiness can't be earned — I have always been, always will be worthy. With that mindset, I can do anything I want!" she said.

She also admitted that she recently began to truly connect with her Japanese heritage in the wake of anti-Asian violence that has been increasing around the country in the midst of the global pandemic.

"The Asian community isn't always a loud one," she said. "Our society's view of Asians in the model minority myth lens has silenced us for many years. In this time of anti-Asian violence, it's so important now more than ever for Asian people to be heard and supported. The division and racism in our world has gotten so bad; we've grown so far from love and connection. I want to create a space for people to feel heard and safe. That's my purpose on this earth."

In recent years, Sports Illustrated has been praised for being more diverse and inclusive when it comes to choosing their models. In February 2015, Robyn Lawley became the first curvy model to pose for the magazine's swimsuit edition. And it was announced on Wednesday that Leyna Bloom became the issue's first trans model of color.

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