It's that time of year again! We need your help picking a member of the 2018 SI Swimsuit Rookie class. Get to know Hunter McGrady, our curvaceous Cali babe who's taking sexy to a whole new level.

SwimDaily: What was your reaction to learning you were going to be a part of Model Search?

Hunter McGrady: I cried. The fact that Sports Illustrated is—I mean, they've always been accepting of amazing beautiful women, but they're accepting of even my body type. I was shocked. I was shocked because this was a dream of mine. I don't even think it's hit me yet. I think that once it comes out I'll be like, ‘Oh my God, it's really real!’ You know what I mean? It still feels like a dream to me.

SD: What was it like being told that you were going to be in body paint?

HM: I was so excited because I know Joanne Gair's work and I think that she's such an incredible artist and I was excited for her to put her art and her vision and her skills onto my body. I saw Ronda Rousey’s last year—her lion one—and it was spectacular.

Josephine Clough

SD: How would you compare SI Swimsuit to other jobs that you've done?

HM: I mean it's Sports Illustrated. It's the top of the top, it's the cream of the crop. It's what every model that I know wants to get to. I also think that the location we shot at was amazing, the crew was incredible—like a big family, which also set it apart from other jobs.

SD: Is being sexy a persona that you have?

HM: It totally is. I'm a very sexy person on my Instagram. I'm a very sexy person when I'm out in public and speaking, but behind closed doors, let me tell you, I'm wearing NFL pajama pants, and I have glasses on and a face mask on my face. Don't get it twisted.

SD: Did you think you would be a model growing up?

HM: I always wanted to be a model. My mom was a model, and my grandma, and my aunt, so I was always around it. And I always remember looking at my mom and being like, ‘I want to be you.’ That never changed for me. I knew from the moment I knew what it was that I wanted to do this. I'm not only doing modeling because I like taking pictures, but it also gives me a platform to speak about other things that are close to my heart.

SD: If you could use your platform as a model to advocate for a cause, what would it be?

HM: My main goal is to get across to women that you are able to love your body at any size and that you're sexy and beautiful at any size. Beauty is not a size and I'm really happy that the industry is accepting body diversity.

SD: Finish this sentence: The people I went to high school with would be ____ to find out that I’m in SI Swimsuit.

HM: They would be shocked. I was really bullied in high school. When I started modeling I was “straight sized.” I don’t like to label plus size or straight size, I think that we’re all beautiful regardless of what size we are. But they always told me that I was fat and that I would never be a model.

Josephine Clough

SD: How has your career transitioned?

HM: I didn’t work very much as a straight sized model because I am a very hippy person. Although I was 115 pounds and I’m 5’11—I was very very tiny for my height—I could never get rid of my hips. When I was about 19, I learned about plus size modeling. It was actually Robyn Lawley, Tara Lynn and Candice Huffine on the Vogue Italia cover. I saw that and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, these women are so beautiful and they are my size.’ By that time, I had gained some weight and I was about a size 10-12. And that’s what kind of opened my eyes to the plus size world. I went into Wilhelmina and I got signed and from there, it was like one job after another. At first I thought my dream was crushed because I didn’t know about the curve or plus industry. And over the past seven years, people have started talking about it and it’s in the media now and I’m so grateful that Sports Illustrated is promoting it because it’s a movement that I’m so proud to be a part of.

SD: Where would you like to see the industry to 5-10 years?

HM: I would love to go to a store and see a size 0-22 on the rack. The same shirt, the same pants, the same jacket. I would love for plus size girls to be able to shop with their smaller friends. I would love for all of this to not be so segregated…I just want to see size-diversity prevail.

See Hunter's steamy shots from SI Swimsuit 2017!