Hunter McGrady weighs in on the importance of diversity in the SI Swimsuit issue and other traditional media outlets.
Welcome to Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Hunter McGrady's column, "Hello, Hunter". Through this platform, Hunter takes a long, hard look at some of the most frequently asked questions she receives in her DMs and answers them candidly. Body positivity? You bet we'll cover that. Dating, relationships, sex, finding confidence in a bikini — she'll take care of all of that, too.
“What are your thoughts on diversity in media?”
For too long we have heard talk that we need of diversity in media, but what exactly does that look like. The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and not only recognizing our individual differences, but accepting them wholeheartedly. Differences of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies need to be fully embraced as the very fabric that make up our modern understanding of the world today.
When we look closely at a magazine such as Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, a ubiquitous publication that has been so thoughtfully and successfully produced for decades, we notice that throughout the many changes both small and large that have taken place over time, SI has remained current, relevant, and deeply committed to reflecting the truth, changing world views and relevant narratives.
All-encompassing representation in media is important for many reasons, the main reason being that the more we shed a positive light on any and all stereotypes, we increase the chance that they may be eradicated. As a society we see ourselves through a social lens and because of that, it is imperative to see images each of us can relate to.
The influx of technology and the way the Internet has obliterated the borders that separate various cultures and geographical locations means the stage is no longer just America. The entire world is at our fingertips. It is more important now than ever to allow these various cultures to be seen and heard. It's more important than ever to expose people to the richness of diverse cultures and the traditions and perspectives of the people who make up the world we now communicate with.
One thing that strikes me about bringing the conversation of diversity to the forefront is the outrage it sparks. Why is it that a woman can’t pose in a burkini and a hijab without having a slew of negative comments? Most of the comments I see are from people who would in no way relate to that image, but at the same time, there are comments of women who are bursting with thankfulness that they see a woman that they can relate to. It takes one person, one publication or one label to make that leap into being inclusive and diverse and to speak out on behalf of those who are not able to. Exposure to diversity is the catalyst that will ignite tolerance, acceptance and understanding. Every generation has the opportunity to do something great to impact the world in a positive way. We will be the generation that shatters perceptions.
See all of Hunter's gorgeous photos from SI Swimsuit 2019: