Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Hunter McGrady on Hating the Word "Plus-Sized," Her Makeup Station, and How Long It Took to Wash Off THAT Bathing Suit

Hunter McGrady has had a busy couple of weeks. The 23-year-old model made headlines for her sizzling spread in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue when it hit stands February 15—not only for the fact she wasn’t actually wearing a swimsuit (the one-piece was actually body paint), but also because she’s been coined as the “curviest model ever” to grace the pages. Since then, she’s been hitting the media circuit, telling her tale of not “making it” in modeling until after she stopped dieting and forcing her body to stay at 115 pounds, and initiating massive strides for the body positive movement along the way. She recently sat down with us and shared some insider Intel from the SI shoot and why she really needs a makeup station in her NY apartment.

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On the positive reaction to the pics…

“It’s been overwhelming in the best way possible. I wasn’t quite sure what the reaction would be; any time you put a bigger girl in any magazine people talk about it, which is unfortunate. I wish it wasn’t SUCH a big deal. But I think it worked in my favor for getting the message out there. It’s been pretty special. It’s kind of wild.”

On why I don't like the term plus-sized…

“The term plus-sized to me is a form of segregation. It’s putting people in separate group. Why can’t we all just be called ‘models?’ I would love to not have a title before my name; I don’t think it’s needed.”

On the body-positive movement…

“I think it’s a revolution. It’s only going to get bigger. Michael Kors had Ashley Graham in his show. SI had me in this issue. People are getting on board and it’s only going to spread more and more. Body diversity is so needed right now—there’s so much chaos and so many upset people in the world. Now is the perfect time to celebrate it, for both women and men.”

On THAT suit…

“The body paint took 12 hours to do. My call time was 2 a.m. and we were done painting at 2 p.m. and then we started shooting. To be honest, I was running on so much adrenaline so the time flew. I was basically on a massage table while they painted my stomach and chest, so I was able to doze in and out a little during that. I learned SO much about body paint during the shoot; there’s a lot of steps involved, each stroke is individually done, and what I was wearing took about 12 layers of paint to achieve.”

On the ultimate makeup remover and washing off the body paint…

“We used this soap that basically breaks down paints and oils. It took about an hour to wash it all off—it doesn’t come off with just water. I think painters use the same soap to get the paint off their brushes, but this one is for the body.”

On beauty secrets I learned on the photo shoot…

“Everything was pretty natural for hair and makeup at the shoot. Salt water was our best friend. I have naturally curly hair that responds well to the water, so at one point, we just dunked it and it turned out great.”

On the beauty line I live by…

“I love the Weleda Skin Food line. It’s my favorite; it’s in my purse at all times. I tell everyone about it. I’m also a big fan of Simple products and Kiehl’s.”

On my makeup obsession…

“I love anything Kevyn Aucoin. It’s so good. I’m a makeup junkie. I just moved in with my guy and he built me a makeup station. I need a place for all of it!”

On what’s next…

“I’d love to break more barriers—do some beauty, jewelry, shoe campaigns. You never see curvy girls in those roles, which is crazy because they’re one-size-fits all. I would love to showcase that. I’m also working on possibly developing an athleisure clothing line that’s inclusive for all sizes.”

Watch Hunter show us her best fitness moves:

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