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Finalist Mady Dewey Almost Didn’t Apply for Swim Search

Camille Kostek helped change her mind.

As Herd Social CEO and co-founder Mady Dewey prepares to walk in her first SI Swimsuit runway show this weekend in Miami, she looks back at her Swim Search journey. Truth be told, the 25-year-old entrepreneur almost didn't apply for the opportunity.

“I almost went through the process two years ago,” says Dewey. “I filmed the video but never submitted it. I was living alone in Seattle during the pandemic, and my relationship with food consumed so much of my brain. I hit rock bottom.”

Although the Santa Clarita, Calif., native dreamed of modeling for SI Swimsuit, she knew it was important to work on herself before entering Swim Search. “From age 14 until about two years ago, I was in a toxic relationship with my body and with food, feeling like I was never small enough,” she says. “I was never able to enjoy food without some level of guilt. I felt like I needed to fit into a body that just wasn’t my own. In addition, I was constantly comparing myself to other people I saw online.

“So I spent the last two years rebuilding my relationship with food and removing the guilt that comes with it. I recognized that I had spent so much energy worrying about how I looked and could channel that energy into many other things. Now, I can’t remember the last time that I had a guilty thought about food.”

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While most of the self-love work came from within, Dewey admitted that 2019 SI Swimsuit cover model Camille Kostek was also an important influence.

“I’ve been a fan of SI Swimsuit since I was 14 years old, but I never thought that it was something that I would be able to do until I saw Camille Kostek,” adds Dewey. “Seeing her go through the Swim Search process with a similar body type to mine changed everything. And I loved how she spoke about how she had never had the opportunity to model before, but it had always been a dream for her. It’s very similar to my story.”

The Swim Search finalist adds, “I felt as I was getting older, becoming more confident in who I was and my body as it is, and going on my own journey with self-love that it was now time to put myself out there. I felt I could be a good representation of what SI Swimsuit stands for, which is women just owning exactly who they are.”

Since shooting in the Dominican Republic and appearing in the 2022 issue, Dewey finds herself with a much larger platform for change. "My life is very similar in terms of my career and focus," she says. "But I want to be able to connect with more women about social media toxicity, self-love and having a positive relationship with food. As a woman in tech, I want to help women interested in starting side passions or actual businesses to know about raising venture capital. It’s a boys’ club, and I want to ensure they have the information and the knowledge to feel empowered going into those conversations.”

But, for now, Dewey is prepping to take the catwalk at Miami Swim Week. “I’m not feeling as nervous as I thought I would be a week out,” she says. “I feel confident in the fact that I know that it’s just about being myself. I’m just going to show up and do that.”