The annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is all about finding women of all sizes and shapes to be featured in the infamous magazine. The publication takes to Miami in its search of models with an aim to diversify beauty and body ideals.
In this year’s Miami contest, directed by Sports Illustrated’s editor, MJ Day, over 1000 women from all backgrounds and ethnicities showed up for the chance to be featured in the magazine, including LA-based, Tunisian model, Nour Guiga.
Guiga has the view to be able to break the negative gender stereotypes that are directed at Arab women all over the world, and speaking to Harper’s Bazaar, she stated, “I’m proud to be the first Arab model selected in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s Sweet 17, as it demonstrates inclusion among women from different backgrounds and helps challenge beliefs around an Arab woman’s potential. SI Swimsuit is empowering women by shattering perceptions of beauty. They are showing women of all sizes, shapes, colours, ethnicities, height, and shining a light not only on their figure, but also on their character. It’s not just about appearance anymore, it’s equally about a woman’s beliefs and actions.”
Nour Guiga was raised surrounded by the beauty ideals that dictated that being “beautiful” meant one had to be skinny and tall, with the approval of a modelling contract. She said, “It took me years to learn and discover the multitude of ways one can be beautiful, and most of them have nothing to do with physical appearance. My definition of beauty is confidence, mental strength, bravery, having an opinion on things that matter and speaking up for others. It doesn’t matter what your measurements are or where you’re from - It’s about who you are as a person, what you lend your voice to and what you do.”
Sport Illustrated’s Swimsuit contest also shines a light on the fact that beauty can come in all forms, and from within, as Nour lauds the publication, “It opens doors for women like myself, makes us feel like we are enough.”