'Curviest model ever' Hunter McGrady recalls being too 'big' for the industry at 114 pounds

Hunter McGrady was deemed the “curviest model ever” to appear in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit when she made her debut in the magazine in 2016. But as she gears up for her fourth appearance in the legendary publication, she’s opening up about how she made her dreams as a plus-size model come true, despite initially being turned away from the industry a decade ago, when she was at her smallest size.

“I had booked a job and I went with my mom to the job in downtown L.A. I was 16,” McGrady said during a conversation with photographer Yu Tsai on IGTV. “I walked in and they were all staring at me and they said, the producer came over and she said, ‘We’re so sorry, we didn’t realize how big you were.’ They didn’t even give me a chance to try on any of the garments. They didn’t give me a chance to do anything. They just simply turned me away.”

McGrady, now 26 years old, revealed at the time she just 114 pounds and 6-feet tall, and still “nowhere near thin enough” according to people controlling the industry. “I went through that feeling like I had to measure up to be accepted or I wasn’t worthy of love, I wasn’t worthy of success if I wasn’t thinner,” she explained. “If this is what it takes to be a model, this isn’t for me. Like, I’m out, I’m done.”

The model opened up about dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety at the time while striving to look a certain way. She eventually took time off from modeling to work on her mental health and to learn about the proper ways to nourish herself. When Ashley Graham was featured in an ad on the pages of SI Swimsuit in 2015, McGrady’s perspective on opportunities for plus-size women changed.

“It opened up possibilities,” McGrady said. “Not me as a plus-size model, but me as a plus-size woman, we’re getting chances that we had never gotten before. We were getting these opportunities and I had not seen that really in the past.”

Now, McGrady continues to be an advocate for size inclusivity, while making consecutive appearances in SI Swimsuit. She even added designer to her resume after launching a fashion line with QVC called All Worthy.

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