Just over a year after she made history as the first plus-size Asian model to appear in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, Yumi Nu is now on the magazine’s cover.
Nu, who appeared with her sister, Natalie Nootenboom, on Teen Vogue’s May 2022 cover, is featured alongside Kim Kardashian, Ciara, and Maye Musk on the most recent SI Swimsuit cover. In addition to her recent Teen Vogue and SI Swimsuit covers, Nu, 25, has also appeared on the covers of both American and Japanese Vogue.
In an interview with People, Nu opened up about the impact that her cover appearance may have on young, plus-size, and Asian girls. She said seeing someone like her on the cover of SI Swimsuit when she was younger would have changed her life.
“I think my 13-year-old self had already been tainted by societal beliefs of what you need to look like to be on a cover. If she would’ve saw it before she saw anything else, I think she would have lived a different life with a different head space,” Nu told People. “That’s why this is important now and has always been needed.”
Yumi Nu previously told Teen Vogue that she had a change in mindset around 2016, coming to terms with her body and accepting herself as she is.
“Even with my body, I was like, I’m so tired of not liking myself or waiting to be thinner, waiting to look a certain way to be happy with myself, so I just started embracing all sides of myself,” she said. While she acknowledged the negative role social media can play in body image, Nu said seeing people who looked like her on Instagram helped her accept her own body.
In an essay accompanying her SI Swimsuit photoshoot, Nu wrote about celebrating her body and having it be accepted in a culture that historically has valued thinness.
“I’m second-generation Japanese American, and Japanese culture values being skinny, dainty and small. So for me to be on the cover of Vogue Japan meant being seen and being honored by a culture that often makes people with bigger bodies like mine feel invisible,” she wrote.
“Of course, it’s not just Japan where there’s a premium on being thin,” Nu continued. “Even here in the U.S., where a lot of the fashion industry has become more inclusive toward people with bodies like mine in the last few years, some people—for example, designers at certain high-fashion houses and dumb, angry guys on the internet, among others—just haven’t quite figured out yet that people who look like me belong everywhere everyone else does.”
This post originally appeared on Teen Vogue.