Megan Thee Stallion sizzles on 'Sports Illustrated Swimsuit' cover in strappy bikini: 'I have always been comfortable and confident in my own skin'

Megan Thee Stallion is a self-proclaimed hottie who successfully entered the mainstream with her 2019 hit "Hot Girl Summer" — a self-love anthem that has inspired millions of people to unapologetically embrace their hotness. But with her latest appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit's 2021 issue, the Texas native is ready to show and tell people how much more there is to her hot-girl identity while paying homage to those who paved the way.

Megan Thee Stallion makes her debut as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover star. (Photo: James Macari/ Sports Illustrated)
Megan Thee Stallion makes her debut as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover star. (Photo: James Macari/ Sports Illustrated)

"I remember being younger and seeing Tyra Banks on the cover and thinking, 'I want to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit edition too,'" Megan tells Yahoo Life. "It was a dream of mine that I manifested into a reality."

The 26-year-old has manifested many dreams since starting her music career, most notably winning three awards at the 2021 Grammys including Best New Artist — the first female rapper to do so since Lauryn Hill in 1999. More importantly than her success, however, is the impact that Megan's songs have had on women. Especially those who have struggled to acquire the confidence that she has.

"I have always been comfortable and confident in my own skin," the "Body" rapper says. "I have to give props to the strong women who raised me. My family always made me feel really good about myself. I didn't realize how lucky I was to have grown up in such an environment."

Beyond teaching her how to love her curves — something that many have praised Megan for — those same women also encouraged Megan to do more with her platform, including to uplift Black women by speaking out about the sexism and racism that plagues society. She's even resisted the stereotypes placed on her and her public persona by continuing to work toward getting her degree in health administration while releasing hits like "Thot Sh**."

"I grew up watching women who did it all. I saw people like my grandmother, my mother and my aunt pursue their education while still being fashionable, while still showing off their curves, and working 9-5 jobs," she explains. "I don't think it is hard for people to believe women can do it all, because we are in your face every day doing it."

It's for this exact reason that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day selected Megan to star on one of the 2021 issue's three covers.

The "Thot S***" rapper says "women can do it all." (Photo: James Macari/ Sports Illustrated)

"These women have not limited themselves to just one thing. They've mastered so many different things, they've taken on so many different things. Sure, they're extraordinarily talented in one specific way or another, but then not far behind those crowning achievements are all of these other incredibly important goals and platforms and achievements that they've all reached," Day says of all three cover stars — which include Naomi Osaka and Leyna Bloom. "Megan Thee Stallion says everything, she's completely unfiltered and that's what makes her fabulous. But then she can also tackle some of the biggest issues we have through her music and in her music videos."

With her debut on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, as well as other work with Revlon, Fashion Nova and Calvin Klein, Megan is tackling issues surrounding the lack of representation of Black women — something that she's been passionate about since seeing women like Banks come before her.

"For me, growing up and seeing Tyra on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit was a big deal. She is a tall, curvy, Black woman like me," she says. "Seeing yourself represented is instrumental. Humans come in all shapes, sizes and colors and we all should be celebrated because we are all beautiful."

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