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Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model for 2016 to be revealed on TNT

Sports Illustrated will announce the cover model for its 2016 swimsuit issue on live television. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2016 Revealed will air on TNT in February.

The festivities will be hosted by Nick Cannon and Rebecca Romijn, and will include a performance of “Higher Place” by Ne-Yo and DJ duo Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike. Elle Macpherson, who has graced the cover of the annual issue a record five times, will be presented with an honorary award. Chrissy Teigen, Gigi Hadid, and more models from the 2016 issue will also be in attendance. The night will culminate in the reveal of 2016’s cover model.

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The 2016 model will join the illustrious ranks of past swimsuit issue cover models such as Kate Upton, Chrissy Teigen, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, and Beyoncé.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2016 Revealed will air Saturday, Feb. 13 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT. Sports Illustrated is a sister publication to Entertainment Weekly.

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James Macari/Sports Illustrated When Sports Illustrated announced that curvy supermodel Ashley Graham would be featured in its annual swimsuit edition, there was a lot of positive feedback.

After all, Graham would be the first truly plus-size woman to be featured in its pages. (Last year, Graham appeared in an ad in the magazine, and Robyn Lawley was the curviest model Sports Illustrated featured.)

If Sports Illustrated — a magazine that targets men — could classify Graham as beautiful, then that marked a huge step for curvy women, who have long been struggling to get marketers and retailers to view them as such.

When it was revealed that she would not just be featured between photos of scantily clad thin models but on the cover, it marked an even bigger step for curvy women.

Plus-size clothing chain Lane Bryant might have been loudly declaring “Plus is Equal,” but this said it even more clearly.

Still, despite the celebration surrounding Graham’s success, some vocal outliers have criticized Graham.

Recently, former Sports Illustrated model Cheryl Tiegs lambasted Graham to E! Online.

While Dr. Oz’s credibility has been called into question, Reuters has reported that a waist size of more than 30 inches puts women at increased risk of metabolic syndrome.

“No, I don’t think it’s healthy. Her face is beautiful. Beautiful. But I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run,” Tiegs said.

Cheryl Tiegs. Getty Images / Ethan Miller

The joke’s on Tiegs, though, because when Graham appeared on “Good Morning America” in November alongside a size-two model, several tests revealed that both she and the thinner model had healthy blood pressure, HBA1C, and LDL levels. They both were in good shape, too.

Moreover, Graham told Business Insider in August that she has a 32-inch waist. According to her IMG page, she has a 30-inch waist, which suggests she might have even lost a bit of weight over the past few months — or that her weight just fluctuates.

Regardless of Graham’s waist size, Tiegs is not the only person to publicly criticize the plus-size model’s success.

The notorious “Dear Fat People” video blogger, Nicole Arbour, released another video directly targeting Graham, called “Dear Fat People 2: The Second Helping.”

She full-on attacks society’s acceptance of women of all sizes, including Graham, going to so far as to denounce the new curvy Barbie, saying the original Barbie was “thin-shamed.”

Arbour’s biggest problem is how “everybody gets a gold star” these days; she longs for the beauty standards of yore.

“I want to eat cookies and still be a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model; what’s next, you can be a midget and a Rockette? What’s wrong with having a physical standard for something?”Arbour cries.

Arbour also makes some bold, derogatory claims about Graham’s career.

“If any of the other models showed up looking like her, they’d be fired. How the f— is that fair? The truth is if she worked out a little bit more, she wouldn’t be plus-size any more, which means she can’t sell s— to plus-size women who’ve turned her into their hero. So to make money, she’s keeping the weight on.”

Arbour separately claims that despite the “feel-good claims of body positivity,” Graham is Photoshopped; Graham has denied this to Access Hollywood (via People).

Arbour serves as a representative of a group of people who have resisted the so-called body-positivity movement. In August, Graham told Business Insider about how she occasionally gets accused of “promoting obesity,” which, she explained on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (via Elle), she’s not doing at all — especially considering there are two dangerous extremes right now.

“There’s a double 0 now. It’s a little scary on both spectrums of weight. I’m not a promoter of anorexia. I’m not a promoter of obesity. I think we have to promote women to be healthy at every size as long as they’re getting off the couch and moving their body,” she said to Ellen DeGeneres.

Arbour denounced Sports Illustrated for putting Graham in a “sports magazine that celebrates athleticism,” but Graham works out. A look at Graham’s Instagram page proves that’s true.

Keeping my curves tight & training like a professional athlete at @dbcfit with @donnieraimon! #moveyourbody // pants are #Zella from @nordstrom

A photo posted by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@theashleygraham) on Aug 28, 2015 at 5:45pm PDTAug 28, 2015 at 5:45pm PDT

Both Arbour and Tiegs fail to recognize that society has changed and expanded its definition of beauty. Companies like Aerie have nixed Photoshop, and body positivity — not uncontrollable snacking — has become the new norm. Graham serves as an ambassador for that expanded concept of beauty; she doesn’t only represent plus-size women.

Besides, Graham hates the term “plus-size,” anyway. As she told Ellen (via Elle), ” to call it, like, curvasexalicious.”

Ashley Graham First Plus-Size Model to Cover Sports Illustrated

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Model Ashley Graham and Sports Illustrated have had a couple firsts together. Last year, she was part of the first plus-sized ad campaign in the magazine ever. This year, Graham is the first true plus-sized model the magazine has ever anointed a “Sports Illustrated Rookie.” (Last year, SI considered Robin Lawley plus-size, a category she and much of the internet took issue with.) And now, Graham is the first plus-sized model to cover SI, as one of three covers.

Explaining SI’s choice, assistant managing editor MJ Day praised Graham’s confidence, a typical kudos bestowed on plus-sized women. As told to Day’s own magazine, “Ashley commands your attention in her photographs, fully confident€ — as every woman should be —€” of her sexiness.”

Day also hinted that SI is aware of public tone toward women and beauty standards, explaining how the magazine is pivoting to meet new expectations. “So how do you choose one?,” she said. “The logical answer would be, Pick the most beautiful one. But what defines beauty today? The truth is, times have changed and one size does not fit all.”

Graham expressed her excitement for the unprecedented cover on Instagram, saying, “This cover is for every woman who felt like she wasn’t beautiful enough because of her size. You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to.”

Three covers is also an SI first. The other two women honored include mixed martial artist champ Ronda Rousey and model Hailey Clauson, the one with a traditional bikini body in the magazine. Day described Clauson in a manner fit for rom-com, saying, “Hailey is the cool girl who doesn’t even know how cool she really is. She’s not only every man’s dream but also every woman’s ‘girl crush.'”

But wait, there’s more: “She’s goofy. She’s smart. And she’s completely humble. What’s crazy is you don’t even feel like she knows that when you’re around her.” Sign this one up to play opposite of one of the Ryans STAT.

Ronda got the body paint treatment, appearing in a tasteful acrylic one-piece, which was modeled after an actual bathing suit from Camilla. Day admitted to being so afraid of the fighter at first, but realizing she’s actually really nice and didn’t punch everyone in the face!

The editor explained, “This was my first time working with Ronda and I truly did not know what to expect. I was honesty really nervous going into it. Her public persona is that she’s a fighter. She’s tough and brutal in the ring.”

SI announced the three covers on-air during a one-hour live special hosted by Nick Cannon and Rebecca Romijn. It followed TNT’s NBA All-Star Saturday Night. Watch it here.

Ashley Graham Makes History as the First Size-16 Model to Cover Sports Illustrated: ‘This Is Going to Change My Life Forever’

For this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, beauty isn’t measured by pounds or kilograms; it’s defined by Ashley Graham.

The model just made history, becoming the first-ever size-16 body activist model to grace the cover of the magazine. And she almost started her celebration with a wardrobe malfunction.

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James Macari/Sports Illustrated

“I see my cover and I wanted to drop to my knees but this dress would’ve ripped and I have Spanx on underneath this,” Graham, 28, told PEOPLE about her strapless body con dress after the reveal on Saturday.

Before showing the three cover issue, also featuring UFC fighter Ronda Rousey and two-time SI swim model Hailey Clauson, the three women joined hosts Nick Cannon and Rebecca Romijn onstage during TNT’s special SI cover reveal special on Saturday night. Then, the hosts announced the historic change to the highly anticipated 2016 edition. For Graham, the rookie was initially shocked to be featured. Last year, she made headlines for appearing in an advertisement in the issue.

“I thought Sports Illustrated was taking a risk by putting a girl my size in the pages,” Graham said. “But putting me on the cover? They aren’t just breaking barriers; they are the standard now. This is beyond epic.”

Graham attributes the efforts of SI Swim’s editor, MJ Day, for her new cover girl title. Before Graham’s shoot for the issue had even finished, it was clear that something big was happening.

Image zoom

James Macari/Sports Illustrated

“MJ came over to me and she had tears in her eyes and she said, ‘This is going to make history’, ” Graham recalls. “And in that moment, I knew that I wasn’t just there as a favor, I wasn’t there just like ‘Oh let’s put the big girl in.’ I was there because I was supposed to be there.”

Graham says this cover isn’t just a celebration of her achievement, but a societal victory as well.

“Girls who are insecure about their bodies, girls who feel fat, girls who have cellulite, girls who have stretch marks on their body — those are all the things that I had as a kid and I never had a woman like me growing up to look at,” Graham said. “I had my mother and that’s one thing, but to have somebody who has cellulite, who has things that jiggle, who has back fat and talk about how you can be an overcomer and not let society take you down for all of that. That’s real.”

After leaving the stage, Graham, surrounded by her team, called her husband on the phone. His response to her cover?

“My husband said, ‘I told you!’ ” Graham said. “And then he goes ‘Yesss.’ “

More than anything, Graham loves the diversity and support shown in this issue.

“I want to dedicate it to all of the women out there who never felt that they were beautiful enough, who never felt like they were skinny enough, and who never felt like they were going to be able to be represented in society like this,” Graham said. “Because now we’re being represented.”

Graham and Sports Illustrated are making waves in more ways than one, but Graham has one thing she wants to do before anything else.

“I’m gonna go eat a burger,” Graham said. “I am so hungry. You have no idea. I want a burger and fries.”

You can catch Graham on this historic cover of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Feb. 15.

— Blake Bakkila

Sports Illustrated is continuing its celebration of diverse body types in its annual swimsuit edition. The iconic issue, which recently made headlines for featuring “curve” model Ashley Graham, also includes an ad campaign showcasing a bikini-clad 56-year-old woman for online retailer Swimsuits for All.

Sports Illustrated features 56-year-old model in annual swimsuit issue

Feb. 11, 201600:36

While the campaign is simply that — an ad — it’s worth noting that Graham got her first big break in Sports Illustrated last year in a similar spread celebrating #CurvesinBikinis.

This year, Swimsuits for All’s #SwimSexy movement promotes “confident curves,” encouraging women of any age or size to show off their bikini body.

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And that they did. Philomena Kwao, Nicola Griffin and Graham bare everything except their metallic gold bikinis in an empowering photo shoot that shows off their beautiful, curvy bodies.

Nicola Griffin, 56, models a bikini for an ad in Sports Illustrated’s 2016 swimsuit issue.Swimsuits for All

The inclusion of 56-year-old Nicola Griffin is a positive sign for those hoping the magazine will continue to print images of women with different body types going forward.

RELATED: Model Ashley Graham to appear in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition

Griffin is officially the oldest model to appear in the swimsuit issue.

“People think you lose your sex appeal as you get older — but that’s a myth; I’ve never felt sexier. I have two daughters and I’m so proud they get to see me looking sexy and confident in a bathing suit,” Griffin said in a statement released by Swimsuits for All.

Ashley Graham, who was nominated as a ‘Rookie of the Year’ for Sports Illustrated’s 2016 swimsuit issue, also appears in the Swimsuits for All ad campaignSwimsuits for All

RELATED: Plus-size model makes history with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition ad

As for Kwao, the opportunity to appear on the pages of Sport’s Illustrated as a woman of color and curve model has been monumental.

Philomena Kwao poses for the #SwimSexy campaignSwimsuits for All

“The #SwimSexy campaign is redefining standards of beauty and I’m proud to be a part of it. My hope is that this campaign connects with women and girls of all ages, body-types, races and backgrounds,” said Kwao in the statement.

RELATED: Robyn Lawley is first plus-size model featured in Sports Illustrated: See the pic!

The 2016 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue hits newsstands Feb. 16.

Meet Sports Illustrated’s first plus-size model

Feb. 6, 201503:01

Sports illustrated cover models 2016

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