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Leyna Bloom becomes first transgender woman of colour in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue

‘This is what it looks like to be in full bloom,’ model captioned photo from her SI shoot

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Wednesday 17 March 2021 21:06 GMT
Leyna Bloom becomes first trans woman of colour in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
Leyna Bloom becomes first trans woman of colour in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Model Leyna Bloom has made history after becoming the first transgender model of colour to appear in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue.

Bloom, who is Black and Filipino and was raised in Chicago, Illinois, is featured in the magazine’s 2021 Swimsuit Issue, with the model telling The New York Times that she hopes the feature will show readers her “autonomy and my anatomy are beautiful”.

“I want people to see that, and to see that you can be respected, appreciated and loved regardless of your body shape, sexuality and the colour of your skin,” Bloom said.

According to the model, she is also representing people who have been missing from the pages of the Swimsuit Issue and “in the world”.

“I’m promoting something that has been missing in the world: trans beauty in all shapes and all sizes. I’m representing Filipina, I’m representing Black, I am representing people who have been immigrants. For them, I’m a vessel of change,” she said.

In an essay, Sports Illustrated’s editor MJ Day also discussed the magazine’s decision to feature Bloom, with Day revealing that the outlet is “honoured to have her in this year’s issue and understand the effect it will have on so many others”.

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“Her story represents one grounded in resilience and we couldn’t be more thrilled to help her tell it,” she said. “Her presence as the first trans woman of color to be in our issue is a result of her lifetime dedication to forging her own path that has led to acceptance, love and change.

“She represents every person’s right to love themselves and be who they want to be.”

While the issue won’t be available until July, Bloom shared one of the photos from the shoot on Instagram, where she can be seen posing on a beach in an orange one-piece bathing suit with a cut-out detail.

In the caption, Bloom said the photo shows “what it looks like to be in full bloom,” before thanking SI for “allowing me to showcase my heavenly form”.

The photo was met with an outpouring of supportive praise, with many applauding the model for the achievement.

“Opening doors for so many,” one person commented on the photo, while another said: “Congratulations!! Representation never looked better.”

Bloom’s inclusion in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue comes as the magazine has made strides to be more inclusive in recent years, with Valentina Sampaio becoming Sports Illustrated’s first transgender swimsuit model last year, while Halima Aden became the first model to wear a hijab in the swimsuit issue in 2019.

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