Suns out, buns out!
We’re midway through a scorching summer and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is back to quench our thirst.
Since 1964, the mag has been putting out steamy photos of the boldest bombshells on the planet. The 2021 issue — on newsstands Thursday — showcases SI’s most diverse group of women to date, which includes a slew of plus-size catwalkers and a 57-year-old stunner.
This year’s three cover stars are tennis great Naomi Osaka, Megan Thee Stallion (the first rapper to appear on the cover of the issue) and Leyna Bloom, the first trans woman to appear in the issue and on the cover.
While past issues have featured bikini babes posing in exotic locales from Switzerland to China — Kate Upton even once posed among penguins in Antarctica — the 2020 pandemic curtailed international travel. So, all of this year’s sexy shoots took place stateside at Hard Rock Hotel locations in California, Florida and Atlantic City.
“It was not easy and we approached the situation very seriously,” Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s longtime editor MJ Day told The Post of producing the issue during the pandemic, adding that photography teams quarantined and followed CDC guidelines. “We took every necessary precaution to keep everyone safe.”
In total, 25 models and 13 finalists from the brand’s nationwide amateur model search will get their glossy glory as a part of what Day deems a “powerful group of extraordinary, multi-dimensional women.”
“For years we’ve been working tirelessly to move the needle and change the conversation around beauty and acceptance,” said Day. The “incredible women featured in the issue represent some of the most powerful voices of today.”
Here’s a selection of this year’s featured models making a splash before the issue drops July 22.
Modeling is just one of four-timer Camille Kostek’s many pursuits. The 29-year old, originally from Connecticut, hosts the TBS game show “Wipeout” and has had several film roles. Kostek, who’s been dating Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight-end Rob Gronkowski since 2015, is a former cheerleader for the New England Patriots.
Rookie Yumi Nu, 24, is making her mark as the publication’s first ever plus-size Asian model. The Japanese and Dutch California girl is DJ Steve Aoki’s niece and has released music of her own through her uncle’s label Dim Mak Records. Nu, who’s modeled for the past 12 years, is coming out with a plus-sized clothing line “Blueki” later this year that focuses on sustainability.
MJ Day lauded her natural beauty: “She doesn’t hold herself to any traditional beauty standards and is gracefully unapologetic for seeing herself as a powerful, beautiful, sensual woman.”
Newcomer Christen Harper, 28, was selected from the 2021 Swimsuit’s model search, something she told the publication “would mean the world” to her.
Harper, who’s been dating Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff since 2019, had a leading role in the 2019 sci-fi film “Auggie.”
The budding actress and model revealed in an Instagram post that earning a spot in the magazine was a longtime dream of hers, but she struggled to make the cut.
“SI is the reason I became a model and for years I tried to get a casting with them but never quite made it,” she wrote. “Instead of just accepting that and moving on I decided to take things into my own hands and chase this dream myself.”
30-year-old Emily DiDonato is back for her sixth Swimsuit Issue! The 19-weeks pregnant model hails from New York state and doubles as a lifestyle Youtuber with almost half a million subscribers. On her channel, you can find makeup tutorials, skin-care advice and learn how the model maintains her photo-ready figure.
This will be Rawlins’ first time modeling for Sports Illustrated, something that came as a shock when she learned she’d been booked. “I had no idea I was even on SI’s radar,” she told The Post earlier this year.
This rookie, 28, moonlights as a registered nurse and volunteers with OneWorld Health, an organization that works to provide health care to impoverished countries. She put her modeling pursuits aside for three weeks at the height of the pandemic to work at a NYC medical center, a career she pursued before modeling. She’s originally from South Carolina, where she was scouted to model for Love Magazine and Elle Croatia. Rawlins said she “did a lot of at-home Pilates” to get in shape for the swimsuit shoot in January.
“Not only is she an incredibly beautiful model, she is also living proof that it’s never too late to give back to your community,” said MJ Day.
24-year-old Natalie Mariduena from Vernon Hills, Illinois runs branding for Dispo, a photo sharing app created by Youtube vlogger David Dobrik, who she previously worked for as an assistant. This modeling newcomer is also internet famous herself, with more than 3 million Instagram followers.
“Being at the forefront of industry change, Natalie beautifully blurs the line in a world that too often tells women that they have to pick a lane and stay in it,” said MJ Day.
Herrington, 28, rocked the Swimsuit Issue in 2018 as the third black woman to ever appear on the cover. She’s excited to return for her fifth year, this time flaunting cornrow braids, a style that models rarely get to wear— Herrington hasn’t been able to wear the hairstyle since she was 13.
“For this year’s shoot she expressed to us her desire to wear her hair in braids,” said MJ Day. “We immediately said yes and she showed up on set as the most confident, vibrant and happiest version of herself. The industry often dictates how women can present themselves and we wanted to give Danielle a space to choose how she would be represented.”
The Compton, California native also has a baby boy on the way.
“I actually found out four days after my SI shoot,” Herrington said. “I was five weeks pregnant at the shoot and had no idea. Having kids is something I’ve always wanted, but it was definitely a surprise.
This 2020 cover star and 2019 Rookie of the Year, the German-American Sanders, 30, is on a roll. With two covers under her belt, she’s thrilled about the diversity she and other models have been able to bring to the magazine in recent years.
“It’s very exciting and I’m very proud to be amongst a handful of black and mixed-race women on the cover but it also highlights how much work we have to do,” she said last year.
White, 29, is another newbie who can boast an established career before diving into the modeling world full-time. The former senior communications analyst, who has worked in the defense and aerospace industry, abruptly quit her job after securing a spot in the 2020 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model search.
Originally from Southington, Connecticut, the Georgetown grad is on a journey to loving her naturally curly hair after constant heat damage. Now, she’s embracing her hair’s natural kinkiness. “I was like ‘OK, let me just go full throttle,’” she told Glamour. “And it has definitely been a journey of self-love in and of itself.”
After stunning in last year’s Swimsuit Issue, this Danish model is back after being voted 2020’s Rookie of the Year. Skriver, 28, has extensive modeling experience, walking for Calvin Klein at New York Fashion Week and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. She’s appeared in editorial spreads for several fashion magazines, including Vogue, W Magazine, and Interview. Raised by a gay father and a lesbian mother, this former VS Angel is an avid supporter of the LGBTQ movement.
Alongside fellow model Jasmine Tookes, she shares health tips and routines with her community of fitness-crazed followers on the duo’s Instagram page, “Joja.” She’s been dating lead singer of “The Cab,” Alexander DeLeon, since 2013.
It’s not swimsuit season without Kate Bock, 33. One of 2020’s three cover stars, she’s appearing in the pages of SI’s Swimsuit Issue for the ninth year in a row.
“I think 10 years is the record,” she told The Post. “I am going after the title.”
The Canadian model, recently engaged to Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player Kevin Love, also serves as chief brand officer for Pompette, a brand of gluten-free hard seltzer.
In an interview with People, Bock revealed that she doesn’t put a lot of preparation into photoshoots—just a quick workout, eating well and drinking as much water as she can.
“I feel beyond lucky that Sports Illustrated was able to figure out a way to allow us to shoot safely during such a tough time,” she shared. “It was such a treat to feel like myself again, being back on a shoot, on set and on location. We took every precaution and the shoot was great! Now I can’t wait for it to come out!”
Kathy Jacobs is blowing rigid modeling standards out of the water. Standing at 5-foot-2, the 57-year-old is both the shortest and oldest rookie to date.
Jacobs began modeling in the 1980s and has since appeared in multiple advertising campaigns, including Thirdlove and Soji Beauty. She also was featured in Miley Cyrus’ 2019 music video “Mother’s Daughter.” According to Jacobs, “the only thing getting old is ageism.”
Rookie and entrepreneur Katrina Scott, 37, has created her own fitness empire. She’s a co-founder of the health and lifestyle community Tone It Up, geared towards busy women and mothers. The brand has everything: an app, workout routines and supplements that can be found at your local CVS. With her Tone It Up business partner, she authored the New York Times best-selling self-improvement guide “Tone It Up: Balanced and Beautiful: 5-Day Reset for Your Body, Mind, and Spirit” in 2018.
This girl boss also hosts the podcast “Live Beautifully with Katrina Scott,” where she interviews other successful businesswomen.
This Brazilian-born model is a former Victoria Secret Angel and eight-time VS Angel Fashion Show model. Ribeiro, 30, has been working the runway since 2009, when she walked for high-end designers like Carolina Herrera, Diane Von Furstenberg and Zac Posen. By 2011, she was the industry’s most desired model. Ribeiro is a mom to a 13-year old son with autism. In 2018, she got a tattoo of a puzzle piece-patterned ribbon to represent the disorder in his honor. She’s also engaged to NBA player Joakim Noah.
“She uses her platform to spread awareness around autism and what it’s like to be a mother of an autistic son,” said MJ Day. “If there is one thing we can do as a brand, it’s to empower individuals to speak up for what they are passionate about and Lais uses her reach and influence to do just that.”
This year marks her fourth appearance in the Swimsuit Issue. You can also spot her cameo in a Season 3 episode of “New Girl.”
Self-taught beauty vlogger Nyma Tang, 30, is one of this year’s eight rookies. The Youtube star, born in Ethiopia, has worked with several makeup lines, including Bobbi Brown and Fenty Beauty. In 2018, she even created her own limited-edition shade of red matte lipstick for MAC Cosmetics. Right now, she has a lip set collection with cruelty-free cosmetic line Dose of Colors. She uses her platform to promote the importance of inclusive makeup shades and share makeup tips for women of color.