Sailor Brinkley Cook opens up: "I feel like I’m representing those tomboys who love to play sports and feel like they can't own that sexiness they have inside of them."
It's been a couple days since Christie Brinkley surprised daughter Sailor with news that she's our newest SI Swimsuit rookie. The video is embedded above. If you haven't seen it yet, grab some tissues and do so immediately. We caught up with Sailor to discuss the surprise, her inspirational Instagram message about body diversity and becoming the first second-generation SI Swimsuit model.
On whether she knew she was coming back as part of the 2018 issue: “I really wasn’t sure. I mean even just going to that casting, there’s so many incredible girls and incredible people that I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ I love working with you guys whenever I can because I just love you guys as people, and the franchise as well. I remember I was asking Lorraine [Ospedales, Sailor's agent] about it. We were sitting in the car on my way to a fashion week event. And MJ [Day, SI Swimsuit Managing Editor] knows I’m not a big high heel dress person, so I was doing the fashion week stuff and wishing I was in a bathing suit. So I asked Lorraine, 'Hey, have you heard back from swimsuit?’ I was very timid and not sure if they’re going to ask me back at all. I was completely surprised."
On being the first second-generation SI Swimsuit model: "I didn’t realize until I saw that as a headline on the website yesterday. And I was like ‘Wait. Wow. That’s pretty sick.’ It’s pretty awesome that I get to carry my mom’s legacy. It is such a legacy that it is intimidating, but we’re so different and it’s so sick that I get to work in the same way she did. And she had the most amazing happy career. She’s always discussing how amazing her career was and how she had so much fun and worked with the best people, so it’s so incredible that I get to work with SI and have that same type of career. I’m having a hard time talking about this because I’m still in shock of it all."
On body image and being comfortable in her own skin: "SI didn’t validate me, but it brought confidence to me and made me feel accepting of myself. I have gone through so many things in terms of how I look and who I am -- not even just my body but how I act. I’ve never been a super feminine girly-girl, I’ve always been a tomboy, I’ve always wanted to play sports and run around with guys. I like sneakers and baggy pants. That’s just what makes me feel sexy and feel good about myself. That’s who I am and I’ve always fought against that because I thought I’m a girl I have to be doing girly things and wear skirts. I had a time in my life where I thought I needed to be wearing dresses and I stopped myself from wearing the clothes that I felt comfortable in. I would wear dresses and skirts to school and I thought it was the right thing to do. I also struggled with eating and body dysmorphia and all of that horrible stuff that I know so many girls deal with. I’ve known so many of my friends who look at themselves, and to everyone else they look super thin or curvy, but they look at themselves and they see a blob, a horrible monster creature and I totally understand that. Through SI, I feel like I can represent people who have dealt with these sorts of things.
I know how much strength it takes and it’s really hard to have to get past those things. It’s so much easier to just stay in it. And I feel like I’m representing those tomboys who love to play sports and feel like they can't own that sexiness they have inside of them. They feel like it needs to be shut down because they’re sporty or whatever. I’m so grateful to be someone that those people can identify with. When they look at the SI Swimsuit issue, they don’t just think there’s a certain type of girl that can be in there. Now there's such a wide range of people and personalities and body types and just all these different people that I think young girls can now see themselves in, which is so important. Representation is more important in the media right now with all the issues. It’s just very emotional right now."
On her mom's appearance on the cover of a 1984 issue of Playboy: "I think it’s so cool. My sister has a vintage old copy of that Playboy, which sh keeps on the bedside table of the guest room in her house. I just think its so awesome that my mom is that person. Yes she’s a bikini model and Playboy model, but she’s still so intelligent, self aware and socially aware. I love people that can do both and she’s one of them. It’s really sick I can call that type of person my mom."
On the first person she told: "I told my best friend Ireland. I was staying with her at her cousin’s apartment because I’m in proces of moving. We were sitting there that morning, having coffee, and I was complaining to her about having to do the interview. So afterwards she was like, 'How was it?' And I was like, 'You’ll never guess, I’m a Sports Illustrated rookie.’ She was so excited. She was the first one to call me and post something on Instagram and all that it was so sweet."
On her unique first name: "I love it. I’ve never really had an issue with my name, ever. It’s a conversation starter, which I love because sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to have a good conversation with someone. So you can just start with being like, ‘Hey my name is Sailor’ and then you can do the whole back and forth about how my mom loved sailing, and her and my dad found out they were pregnant with me in Hawaii and it just all came together. But I love it for that reason. It's not just like, 'Hey my name is Jill’ and people forget right away."
BONUS: See Sailor and Christie's best moments from their shoot for SI Swimsuit 2017: