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Hunter McGrady Calls Out Against the Perfect Plus Mindset

The SI Swimsuit model fights for broader representation and inclusivity.

When Hunter McGrady went from a size 14/16 to a size 18, she lost 90 percent of her clients because she wasn’t a “perfect plus.” The term is as unattainable and distasteful as it sounds and refers to the industry’s standard for what a “perfect” plus-size model’s measurements should be (size 12/14 with an hourglass shape). In a recent interview with Allure, McGrady calls out the irony of an industry claiming to be inclusive and accepting while putting unfair and unrealistic expectations on plus-size models to look a certain way.

“​​It was a real point of contention for me because here I am in this industry where it’s all about body positivity and loving your body, and all the while on the back end of things — the things that people don’t see and don't hear — I’m being told to change,” she says. “It was a really bizarre juxtaposition.”

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At Fashion Week in September 2019, McGrady says she turned down more than 30 jobs because they didn't meet her inclusivity standard. She has chosen not to change her body and stands firmly in the boundaries she’s worked so hard to cultivate. Now, she only works with brands who are as accepting as they claim. Her standards are simple. “Showcase women of all sizes, all heights, all ranges,” she tells Allure. “Showcase women with larger midsections. Showcase women that have no boobs, that are all hips. Showcase different bodies and design for that. Now, that's impressive.”

It’s been four years since McGrady participated in SI Swimsuit’s In Her Own Words photo essay, choosing to pose nude with words like “worthy” and “powerful” painted on her body. (She chose the words and messaging.) “How awesome would it have been when I was younger if I was able to open a magazine and see someone who looked like me?” McGrady told Allure. “I think it would have saved me.” While her own writing has been on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, further placing her as a major advocate for body inclusivity, she’s still fighting for a more authentic industry.