Paige Spiranac, Tyra Banks, Kate Upton and Other SI Swim Legends Talk Inspiring Inclusion on International Women’s Day

Leyna Bloom, Megan Rapinoe and Paulina Porizkova also chime in on what it means to foster inclusivity.
Paige Spiranac, Tyra Banks and Kate Upton

Paige Spiranac, Tyra Banks and Kate Upton.


Today is International Women’s Day, a global occasion that honors the many achievements of women in the social, political, economic and cultural spaces.

Over the last few days, we had the honor of chatting with some of SI Swimsuit’s most iconic models on the set of the 60th anniversary legends photo shoot at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., where we touched on the day of awareness.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “inspire inclusion,” so we asked several brand stars what inclusion means to them and how inclusion creates a better world in which everyone feels empowered. Here’s what they had to say.

Paige Spiranac 

Paige Spiranac

Paige Spiranac.

“In golf, we talk about growing the game and we talk about having people involved, but people are scared of inclusion. I think [it’s] because they don’t want things to change, and if you don’t have people like yourself, then they feel that it’s going to change, which is scary, but inclusion makes everything better,” the 2018 SI Swimsuit star states. “And you have difference of opinions and personalities and there’s so much that’s added through inclusion and it’s such an important conversation. I know it can be scary for some people, but I think once it starts happening, it won’t be as scary as you think. I think we are all more similar than we are different.”

Leyna Bloom

Leyna Bloom

Leyna Bloom.

“You don’t need a bunch of followers that believe in you. You just need to step into your own truth and live it and walk with that. That’s something that we can feel instinctively of understanding energy and understanding emotion. It is instinctively, there is something that is powerful here and they’re leading with that,” the 2021 SI Swimsuit Issue cover star says of empowerment through inclusion. “I want to know their name. I want to hear their conversation. That’s a universal thing, international women awareness. None of us on earth would be here if it wasn’t for a woman. Every person on earth, billions of humans on earth, came from a woman.”

Kate Upton

Kate Upton

Kate Upton.

“What inclusion means to me is that your voice matters,” the three-time SI Swimsuit cover star notes. “We all need to feel empowered to speak our minds and to set healthy boundaries and to hear other people’s mindset and where they’re coming from. I think if we all stay open and continue to speak, that’s really where the magic happens.”

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe.

“Inclusion to me means getting the best because you have the most perspective, whether that’s in a boardroom [or elsewhere]. If everybody looks the same, you’re going to get 12 same perspectives. If people are different, you’re going to get something richer and better and fuller out of that,” the 2019 SI Swimsuit Issue star explains. “I think that extends to sort of every part of life. We only have our one unique perspective that we can see the world with and then offer that perspective from, so I feel like I have a rich perspective, but it’s only one. So I want to know what everybody else is thinking about everything and be able to expand in that way, understanding that there’s things that I just don’t know and can’t know, but I can hear them from other people.”

Paulina Porizkova

Paulina Porizkova

Paulina Porizkova.

“True inclusion would mean that it is acknowledged that everyone has the same worth as a human being. We’re not quite there yet, but at least in the sphere of beauty, [inclusion] has always seemed very specific and it’s hard to tell who it’s determined by, who’s setting the rules of who is called beautiful in a certain decade,” the two-time SI Swimsuit Issue cover star says. “Certainly even if you look back through Sports Illustrated [Swimsuit] now to the first issue in 1964 ... we’re being chosen for different attributes [through the years]. And this is the widest choice that we’ve ever had to represent the most amount of women. So I think that is thrilling. I do wish that there was a little more inclusion for older [women], because I do think that we’re doing really great with size and color, and I still think with age, not so much.”

Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks.

“There’s diversity, just making sure that you have a plethora. And then there’s equity, which means equality and equal in pay. And then inclusion is about how somebody is feeling,” Banks, the first Black model to land an SI Swimsuit Issue cover, states. “Do they feel appreciated? Do they feel recognized? Are you really truly doing the work? Are you ticking a box? ... There’s a lot of forward movement of, O.K., we’re going to have women be on this board, but if that woman is on that board and she’s not feeling heard, seen, respected, then there’s diversity, but there is no inclusion.”


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Cara O’Bleness

CARA O’BLENESS

Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.