Ashley Graham Makes History, Size 16 Body Activist Graces Cover of "Sports Illustrated" Swimsuit Edition

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Ashley Graham has officially made history. The size 16 body activist and fashion model graces one of three covers of this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

At the Sports Illustrated cover reveal on Saturday night, Ashley Graham learned the exciting news.

“I thought Sports Illustrated was taking a risk by putting a girl my size in the pages,” Graham said. “But putting me on the cover? They aren’t just breaking barriers; they are the standard now. This is beyond epic.”

Ashley Graham credits Sports Illustrated's swimsuit editor MJ Day for her new status as a cover girl.

“MJ came over to me and she had tears in her eyes and she said, ‘This is going to make history,'” she says. “And in that moment, I knew that I wasn’t just there as a favor, I wasn’t there just like ‘Oh let’s put the big girl in.’ I was there because I was supposed to be there.”

Achieving this magazine cover is a victory for society, according to Ashley Graham.

“Girls who are insecure about their bodies, girls who feel fat, girls who have cellulite, girls who have stretch marks on their body--those are all the things that I had as a kid and I never had a woman like me growing up to look at,” she explains. “I had my mother and that’s one thing, but to have somebody who has cellulite, who has things that jiggle, who has back fat and talk about how you can be an overcomer and not let society take you down for all of that. That’s real.”

After leaving the stage at the Sports Illustrated cover reveal, Ashley Graham called her husband.

“My husband said, ‘I told you!’ ” Graham said. “And then he goes ‘Yesss.’ ”

Where was the gorgeous size 16 model headed after the big event?

“I’m gonna go eat a burger,” she said. “I am so hungry. You have no idea. I want a burger and fries.”

Ronda Rousey--in body paint--and model Hailey Clauson landed the other two Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition covers.

Fans can check out Ashley Graham, Ronda Rousey, and Hailey Clauson on one of three Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition covers when the magazine hits news stands on February 15.

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.