For only the third time in the 54-year history of the infamous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, a black model is appearing on the cover. Up and comer Danielle Herrington graces the cover of the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and she slays from top to bottom. She follows Tyra Banks, who was the first woman of color to appear on the cover in 1997, and Beyonce, who absolutely owned the cover in 2005. On this year's cover, Herrington is utterly breathtaking in a hot pink bikini, with a cascade of natural curls spilling down her back.
There's another beautiful element to this cover nod. Herrington found out that she snagged this major professional achievement by surprise — and through a legend.
She visited the SI offices thinking she was participating in a virtual reality shoot. Upon arrival, she walked into a studio and "bumped" into Banks. It was the first time to the two would meet, and Banks was the one who made the big reveal that Herrington was the cover star.
Since Banks was the first African-American on the Swimsuit Issue cover, they shared quite a moment around the reveal.
Herrington's cover is so much more than a dip in the ocean. It spotlights the fact that mainstream publications are embracing a wider variety of beauty standards. Things are changing — and it's about time. Here's to hoping that the next 50 years of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues feature more women of color, and women from different cultures and experiences on its cover.
You need to stop whatever it is you are doing and watch this video of Banks informing Herrington that she is the cover model. It's a beautiful and sweet exchange, as both break into tears.
If Herrington isn't instantly familiar to you — and that's clearly about to change— here's some background info. The native of Compton, California is 25 years old. She burst onto the modeling scene last year, and appeared in the 2017 Swimsuit Issue. She was a total rookie at the time — it was her first-ever professional shoot.
SI Swimsuit editor MJ Day spoke in the issue about why Herrington was the logical choice for the cover nod so soon into her career.
"She's an extra hard worker and a natural brand ambassador," Day said. "All those things separately don't guarantee a cover, though."
Day also noted that her personal growth was another factor in Herrington's selection, saying, "Danielle was a shy girl, who went from taking her first photos last year to showing up this year a completely different person. All the good things about her seemed to be magnified."
Additionally, Day was impressed with the model's "enthusiasm and effervescence." Both of those traits emanate from her gorgeous cover shot.
Herrington is understandably stoked about her cover appointment, telling the mag, "I can't even believe I'm saying this. I am the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover model."
Yes, Danielle, you are.
She finished, "I'm emotional, but I just want to say thank you to everyone who believed in me. I put in so much work for this and I'm feeling very accomplished, happy and excited."
Big ups to Sports Illustrated for recognizing the beauty in diversity.