When Natalie Mariduena first appeared in the 2021 SI Swimsuit Issue, people were immediately struck by how relatable the influencer appeared. Turns out, this is exactly what she was hoping for. With her debut SI Swim appearance, Mariduena wished to represent women with her body type and show body normalcy in a positive light.
The 2022 SI Swimsuit model told Fox News Digital that she fits a niche in the industry that frankly hasn’t been explored to its fullest. “In the industry, you see models who are very thin or you see plus-size models, but there isn’t this genre of modeling that’s right in the middle,” she said.
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The 25-year-old has found that her 8 million followers have responded enthusiastically to finally seeing someone who looks like them in a publication. “I’m often told, ‘I have your body type — thank you for showing this,’” Mariduena said. “These people are showing their appreciation towards me and I want to give that love back. Because I have this platform, I think it’s more important than ever that I provide positivity for women.” said Mariduena, who has shared tips on how to combat negative comments with her followers, promoting “Do Good” initiatives.
The model told Fox News Digital that SI Swimsuit has given her a home that’s aligned with her mission. “Being part of Sports Illustrated is probably one of the most empowering experiences I’ve ever had,” she said. “I’m able to celebrate my body.”
Representing the average body type and promoting body normalcy has been at the forefront of Mariduena’s work as a model. “I want to be an example of that and show that it’s cool and it’s beautiful,” she added. “[On social media] I show my body, I show my life, I show what I represent and what I value with no filter. Whether it’s a bikini image or just an image of me out in the street in a cute outfit, I want to show that the normal body size is valued."