Influencer Natalie Noel, 24, bringing body positivity to Sports Illustrated Swim: 'Someone normal and not stick thin'

Kerry Justich
·2 min read

Natalie Noel is the latest social media star to be added to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit roster as a rookie for 2021.

The 24-year-old, best known for being the assistant to internet sensation David Dobrik, announced her inclusion in the iconic magazine on Wednesday with a post on Instagram. She also shared a video of her friends reacting to the news.

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"IM A SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIM MODEL!!!!" Noel — also known by Natalie Mariduena — captioned her post. "Definitely still in shock."

According to the comments, however, the spot seems well deserved. "You're beautiful and I have a similar body type to you and this made me feel really beautiful!" one person wrote. Another said, "Honestly this will be so inspirational and will give confidence to so many people to see someone normal and not stick thin."

SI Swimsuit, led by editor MJ Day, has become known for representing inclusive body types as women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and ages appear across the magazine's pages. Day has also made a point to select women with empowering stories to tell. In a post revealing this year's first rookie, she said that Mariduena's entrepreneurial spirit was one of the biggest reasons that the influencer was selected. "She recognizes the importance of changing the industry, using her following and her notoriety to help others," Day wrote.

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"Being at the forefront of industry change, Natalie beautifully blurs the line in a world that too often tells women that they have to pick a lane and stay in it. We are proud to celebrate a woman like Natalie, a like-minded individual, who is passionate about seeing the SI Swimsuit message through," Day's statement continued. "She has created her own success story through her entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen and relatable mentality. We are excited to share her message in hopes of inspiring others."

Aside from Mariduena's work for Dobrik's personal brand, the Chicago native has amassed a following of more than 4 million people on her own Instagram account where she posts authentic, relatable and impactful content that encompasses body positivity and political initiatives. She also showcases her personal business ventures through her own line of merchandise, sponsored content and her role as Head of Brand for a new social app, Dispo.

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