Yumi Nu looks like a natural on the pages of the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, but the rookie tells Us Weekly in an exclusive interview that she never thought she’d see herself on the pages of the magazine, which is hiding stands July 20, 2021.
“The younger version of myself would have never believed I would be a Sports Illustrated model one day. It’s given me so much confidence to believe that anything is possible for us,” the model tells Stylish. “Society places us in so many boxes of what we have to do or who we have to be to be worthy. We are enough already. Period.”
The Japanese-Dutch recording artist, who is represented by The Society Management, has made history as the first curvy Asian to be photographed for the magazine — and she’s excited to see the direction the industry is heading.
“I wish I could be considered just a normal model. I know the industry has a long way to go until there is no divide between sizes … I started modeling in 2009 when the plus industry was barely existent. Now, plus size models are finally getting included in things we’ve asked for, for year.”
Nu adds that her inclusion in the magazine is impactful for Asian Americans as well. “The recent wave of diversity in the media has been a great step in the right direction, but there is still a lack of Asian representation. Having Sports Illustrated uplift Asian voices like mine and others in their issue means the world to me.”
Including Nu in the 2021 Swimsuit issue seems to have been a no-brainer for editor M.J. Day. “We work with a lot of incredible women. Yumi, however, possesses the most amount of confidence and appreciation for herself and body that we’ve seen. She doesn’t hold herself to any traditional beauty standards and is gracefully unapologetic for seeing herself as a powerful, beautiful, sensual woman,” Day writes in an Instagram post on March 18.
She continues: “She shows up for women in a strong way and is on a mission to end the conversation around limiting women in the industry. Not only is she stunning, and an extraordinary model, but she radiates warmth and the kind of energy that we always want around. Yumi’s photos are some of my favorites and so is she!”
In the post, Nu looks absolutely stunning, wearing a high-waisted green bikini with a puff sleeve. Her hair is naturally wavy from the ocean air and her skin tanned to perfection. By the way, she does her tan DIY with St. Tropez Tanning Mousse!
Nu joins a lineup of rookies that have varied and interesting stories. Leyna Bloom for example is the first transgender woman of color to grace the pages of the magazine. Kathy Jacobs on the other hand is making her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit debut at the age 57, who is an icon for positive aging.
The 2021 surely has an impressive roster, and while its to be determined what next year’s issue will hold, Nu is hoping that her younger sister may score a spot. “My favorite model is my sister, Natalie Nootenboom. She is so wise beyond her years, her energy is radiant and she lights up any room she enters.”
The 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is hitting stands July 20th.