Story at a glance

  • Sports Illustrated has unveiled three separate covers for its annual swimsuit issue.
  • The three women gracing the covers are rapper Megan Thee Stallion, tennis star Naomi Osaka and model Leyna Bloom.
  • Bloom is the magazine’s first transgender cover model.

Sports Illustrated has unveiled three separate covers for its annual swimsuit issue, including one featuring the magazine’s first transgender cover model.

The three women gracing the covers are rapper Megan Thee Stallion, tennis star Naomi Osaka and model Leyna Bloom, who is transgender. 


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The theme for this year’s swimsuit issue is “Opening Eyes, Speaking Truths and Changing Minds.” 

"If there's one thing that our cover models have in common, it's that they don't have one thing in common," Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day said in the announcement. "They look different, have different upbringings, have different passions and inspirations. But each is a reminder that beauty comes in many forms."

Grammy-winner Megan Thee Stallion was chosen not only for taking the music world by storm, but for how "she uses her platform to push boundaries, dissect societal norms and encourage humans to think about the backward way our society continues to operate," according to the outlet.

Osaka, the tennis phenom who holds four Grand Slam titles and is competing in the upcoming Olympics for Japan, has advocated for racial equality and the stigma surrounding mental health, recently taking time off to address her own mental health. 

"What drew us to Naomi was her passion, strength and power geared toward consistently breaking barriers when it comes to equality, social justice and mental health," Day said.

Bloom has risen in the fashion world, becoming the first out transgender model to appear in Vogue India and the first trangender woman of color to star in a leading role in a film at the Cannes Film Festival.

Now, Bloom is making history again on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.

"Leyna is legendary in the world of activism, strikingly gorgeous, and has an undeniable sense of self that shines through the minute she walks on set," Day said. "Her story represents one grounded in resilience, and we couldn't be more thrilled to help her tell it. Her presence as the first trans woman of color to be in our issue is a result of her lifetime dedication to forging her own path."

The 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is available on-stands now.


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Published on Jul 20, 2021