Katie Austin and Christen Harper seem like naturals when it comes to gracing the pages of the SI Swimsuit magazine. But the rookies admitted at the 2022 issue launch event in NYC on May 19 that modeling for the iconic brand was unreal and walking the red carpet was a dream come true.
“It’s truly a full-circle moment,” says Harper. “To be here as a rookie is just crazy.” Austin adds, “I always wanted to be a part of Sports Illustrated because it aligns with my brand so much. But, after going through Swim Search, it feels so rewarding that we’re here right now.”
For Harper, the dream of modeling for SI Swim started years ago. In fact, it was the inspiration for getting into the industry in the first place. “I wanted to become a model because I originally saw Sports Illustrated when I was in high school. I saw Kate Upton, and I saw someone that looked like me. It gave me confidence in myself and gave me the confidence to move through life and pursue a modeling career.”
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Now that the two women have SI Swimsuit rookie to add to their résumés, they’re hoping to use the notoriety to inspire other women. “I want to show the normal sporty girl that they can be models and have their photo in Sports Illustrated,” says Austin. “It means a lot to me to represent the nontraditional girl. I want the normal girl out there to know what they can do. No one will believe in you more than you. So, you have to believe in yourself truly.”
Harper adds, “I hope I get to have that effect on someone and make them feel good about themselves.”