Sports Illustrated Swimsuit features its 1st Indigenous model: 'I'm a strong, empowered and fearless woman making history'

·2 min read
Ashley Callingbull is the first Indigenous woman featured in the magazine. (Photo: Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated)
Ashley Callingbull is the first Indigenous woman featured in the magazine. (Photo: Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated)

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit is making history yet again with another first in the 2022 issue, featuring an Indigenous First Nations woman on its pages, Ashley Callingbull.

The model and speaker's inclusion in the magazine was announced on Monday. She was named one of the finalists for SI's 2022 Swim Search, which is an annual casting call that allows aspiring and established models to submit themselves for a chance to be featured in the magazine. Callingbull, who is a Cree First Nations woman from the Enoch Cree Nation in Alberta, Canada, took to her Instagram to celebrate and wrote, "Mom I made history!"

"I’m the first Indigenous First Nations woman to grace the pages of Sports Illustrated and my heart is beaming with pride!" Callingbull captioned her post. "But most importantly, I will not be the last and I can't wait to see who;s next."

In a follow-up post, the model went on to explain that her feature "is a huge moment for Indigenous women because now the door is open for others to walk through and own this space." She also reflected on how impossible this type of representation seemed to her as a young girl.

"I used to be a little insecure girl from the Rez that didn't even dare to dream big," she wrote. "Now I'm a strong, empowered and fearless woman making history."

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Prior to celebrating the big news on Monday, Callingbull took her 1.2 million Instagram followers on her journey of securing her spot in SI Swim, beginning in Feb., when she posted her first photo submissions for the casting call.

From there, the 32-year-old shared videos documenting her travels to the Dominican Republic where she shot with notorious SI Swim photographer Yu Tsai and experienced a bit of life as an SI model.

"This is way bigger than me and I just want Indigenous women and girls to see their faces reflected in mine and know that any dream is attainable," she wrote in one post from March. She added in another, "I can't believe this really happened. I've manifested my dreams it feels so good."

Callingbull received support and praise from her online community after announcing her official feature in the magazine.

"Paving the way for indigenous women and People on various levels," one person wrote.

Another commented, "Work, commitment and dedication, very well done!!"

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