12. A Work of Art

12. A Work of Art

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

A Work of Art

We’re telling women that they’re plus size. But for me, I just like to call it curvasexalicious.

~Ashley Graham, plus-size model, on Ellen

I am a fifty-six-year-old male who collects the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. There are twenty-one issues of this classic periodical stacked on the floor of my home office.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not some kind of dirty old man. I do more than just look at the models. I like to read the sidebars about where the photos were taken, where the crew stayed, where they ate, and what they did while there. Plus, I enjoy the funny ads, like this year’s full-page advertisement for Grizzly smokeless tobacco, which boldly states, “You will never date a girl in this magazine.” How funny is that?

As for the models themselves, I’m honestly not impressed with a lot of the pictures. I see some of their poses and mumble, “That’s stupid.” I see some of their sultry, lip-biting expressions, and murmur, “Aw, c’mon. Gimme a break.” So I think I’m pretty well grounded.

And so it was. After dinner on Thursday, February 18th, I curled up on my bed with the 2016 swimsuit issue. It was no big deal until I opened the magazine to see a three-page foldout stating, “This body is made to be uncovered.” It featured a gorgeous “plus-size” model in a white, two-piece bathing suit.


I opened the flap to see that it was an ad for Lane Bryant.

I scratched my head. “What is that doing in the swimsuit issue?”

Undaunted, I continued reading the magazine, turning through full-page ads for typical guy stuff like Edge shaving cream, Breitling watches, and Copenhagen tobacco.

Then I came to two pages explaining the magazine’s use of three different covers with three different models: Ronda Rousey, Hailey Clauson, and Ashley Graham. My copy had Hailey Clauson on the cover. I knew that Ronda Rousey was a famous athlete — but Ashley Graham? Who was she? These same two pages had a picture of Ronda, but not one of Ashley. Thus, I didn’t know a thing about her.

So from there, I dove into the swimsuit issue, enjoying all the beautiful models and zipping through the ads for light beer, razors, and cologne.

For the first time in history, Sports Illustrated was acknowledging plus-size models in its world-renowned swimsuit issue.

Then I hit page seventy-five and slammed on the brakes. Pages seventy-five, seventy-six, and seventy-seven contained full-page pictures of stunning, plus-size models in golden bikinis. Their ad was for a company called Swimsuits For All. I had never heard of them, but I think I can safely say that I figured out their target customer.

Still, I asked myself “Why is Sports Illustrated doing this?”

I continued perusing the issue until I got to page 177. There she was — a striking brunette model named Ashley Graham in a blue, two-piece swimsuit from Lane Bryant.

At first, I furrowed my brow, asking myself “Isn’t she a bit . . . um . . . big?”

Then it hit me.

For the first time in history, Sports Illustrated was acknowledging plus-size models in its world-renowned swimsuit issue. And Ashley was awesome!


The female body is a work of art that is beautiful in all shapes and sizes.

~John M. Scanlan

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