Kim Petras on the cover of Sports Illustrated
Sports lllustrated

Sports Illustrated made headlines yesterday when the covers for its annual swimsuit issue were revealed. One features its oldest cover model yet: 81-year-old Martha Stewart.

The attention to the images of Stewart drew the focus away from the swimsuit issue’s other models. Among its 28 subjects, the magazine features two trans icons.

Germany’s Kim Petras, who hit the top of the Billboard charts last year with her track with Sam Smith, ‘Unholy’, posed for photographer Yu Tsai in Los Angeles. Petras is one of the magazine’s four cover stars, as highlighted by the magazine’s Twitter bio image.

Sports Illustrated swimsuit covers
(Photo: Sports Illustrated)

Petras released a track with Nicki Minaj last month. This week, she announced the release date for her eagerly-awaited debut album. Feed The Beast will be out on June 23rd.

Leyna Bloom

In 2021, Leyna Bloom became the first trans woman of color to feature on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. 2023 marks the third year in a row she has appeared in the issue. Photographer Amanda Pratt shot Bloom in Dominica.

Bloom was the second trans model to grace the issue, following in the footsteps of Valentina Sampaio in 2020.

On Instagram, Bloom said, “I’m so honored to come back a 3rd time. To represent my community and powerful feminine energy like mines worldwide.

“I feel so lucky to be seen and so happy to be amongst these beautiful Amazonian, queens in all different forms of beauties, bodies and brands. I got the call from @mj_day to come out to Dominica 🇩🇲 so we can all share our light and talents together to create such beautiful timeless imagery.”

If the Bud Light-Dylan Mulvaney backlash prompted any brands to rethink their commitment to trans rights, Sports Illustrated is not among them. Predictably, featuring Petras on the cover prompted a flurry of anti-trans comments online.

However, many others praised Sports Illustrated and loved the images.

“Thank you for this! This means so much to so many people. And it’s an absolutely stunning cover!” said one of many commentators on Instagram.

Martha Stewart

As first noted, the Martha Stewart shoot hoovered up most of the issue’s online attention.

The businesswoman and TV personality said she tries not to think about her age, but recognized the significance of her swimsuit image.

“I don’t think about age very much, but I thought that this is kind of historic and that I better look really good,” Stewart said, according to the BBC.

On Instagram, Stewart said she was “thrilled” to grace the cover of the swimsuit issue. My motto has always been: ‘When you’re through changing, you’re through,’ so I thought, why not be up for this opportunity of a lifetime? I hope this cover inspires you to challenge yourself to try new things, no matter what stage of life you are in. Changing, evolving, and being fearless – those are all very good things, indeed.”

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