Cover Girl

Kim Petras Makes a Splash as a Cover Model for the 2023 ‘Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’ Issue

From rising pop star to cover girl, Grammy award winner Kim Petras is officially the second transgender woman to grace the cover of Sport Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue. 

The German pop star joins fellow cover models Martha Stewart, who is the oldest cover model ever for the annual swimwear issue, actress Megan Fox, and actor/model Brooks Nader. The “Unholy” singer becomes the second transgender model to cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue; Leyna Bloom being the first to be on the cover of the long running publication in 2021. 

“It’s definitely a scary time to be transgender in America, but there’s also so much more representation than there’s ever been, and there’s so many things on the bright side,” said Petras in her interview with the magazine. “I do feel a pressure sometimes to represent the trans community with everything I do, because I feel very blessed that I am at this point where I have all these amazing opportunities that I’ve worked really hard for and feel so happy when I hear from trans people in general that they’re inspired by me.”

Petras continues to blazes trails after she became the first transgender woman to top the Billboard Hot 100 with the song “Unholy” in 2022, a collaboration with nonbinary singer Sam Smith. Soon after, she became the first openly trans artist to obtain the Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance in 2023 for “Unholy”. She is the second out trans woman to win a Grammy, following in the footsteps of musician and composer Wendy Carlos. 

Known for her independent releases, the Grammy winner also revealed on Monday that her new album Feed the Beast will release on June 23, her first one on a major label. The announcement also comes on the heels of the release of latest single “Alone” with rapper Nicki Minaj.

“It’s super exciting to have my Sports Illustrated cover and album announcement happening at the same time!” said Petras in an interview with People Magazine. “[Photographer] Yu Tsai and the whole team at Sports Illustrated made me feel really comfortable and like I belonged there. I had the best time and, honestly, it was a huge confidence boost.”

Sports Illustrated has a controversial history in terms of its outspoken readership and cover model representation. Last year’s Swimsuit edition featured Kim Kardashian. The announcement of her cover was met with criticism for Kardashian’s personal brand promoting impossible beauty standards and unhealthy dieting habits. Additionally, author Jordan Peterson was rightfully dragged in the same year for tweeting out that cover model Yumi Nu, who’s plus-sized, wasn’t “beautiful” and that “no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that.”

The popular publication is making strides towards diversifying its model representation. Petras and Bloom’s inclusion as cover models for the Swimsuit issue demonstrates this and offers more trans representation for the publication. 

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