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Who is Hunter McGrady? Sports Illustrated's plus-size model opens up on therapy and her modeling career

Hunter McGrady opened up about her career struggles as a model and importance of therapy (Image via Hunter McGrady/Instagram)
Hunter McGrady opened up about her career struggles as a model and importance of therapy (Image via Hunter McGrady/Instagram)
Barsha Roy

American plus-size model Hunter McGrady recently opened up about the challenges she faced during the initial days of her modeling career and also talked about undergoing therapy.

Speaking to Health magazine, the 28-year-old mentioned that she was “enamored” by her mother’s modeling career and decided to venture into the industry when she was just 15 years old. However, she had several harsh experiences right after establishing her own career:

“I'm 6 feet tall, and back then, I was a size 2 and 114 pounds. I was very thin, and I tried to be that thin. I was just like, "Let me see how thin I can get." I hadn't even fully gone through puberty yet. I went into agencies, and every single agent kept telling me, "You're great. We love you. If you can just lose a little bit more, we'll sign you."

Despite being determined about her dreams, one particular moment in Hunter McGrady’s life compelled her to stop modelling:

“The last straw was when I booked a job and was like, "I'm the thinnest I've ever been. This is fabulous." I walk in and everyone's staring at me. The producer comes over and is like, "Listen, we have to talk to you. We didn't realize how big you were."

Following the harsh incident, Hunter McGrady left behind her dreams and also struggled with anxiety and depression. However, she decided to undergo therapy after realizing she needed professional help:

“I went to therapy. My eating was out of control—I was not healthy. Mentally, I knew I needed help. I really had to strip away everything I had been told and had learned. I look back and I'm like, "Wow, that's sad." But it's also the first building block of the career I have now. I really had to learn about my body and learn how to nourish it and love it again.”

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The model mentioned that therapy changed the way she thought about her body and helped her with mental and physical growth.


Everything to know about Hunter McGrady

Hunter McGrady is a size-inclusive American model (Image via Hunter McGrady/Instagram)
Hunter McGrady is a size-inclusive American model (Image via Hunter McGrady/Instagram)

Hunter McGrady is an American model and body image positivity activist. She was born on May 4, 1993, in Westlake Village to Brynja and Michael McGrady. Her father was an actor while her mother and grandmother were models.

She is best known for appearing in the 2017 Swimsuit Edition of Sports Illustrated after participating in the magazine's Swimsuit Model Search. She debuted on the publication’s 2018 swimsuit issue as part of the “In Her Own Words” project.

The model is currently signed with the Wilhelmina Models Curve Division in Los Angeles and New York. Following her Sports Illustrated feature, Hunter McGrady went on to bag prominent modeling assignments like Melissa McCarthy’s Seven7 and Ashley Graham's Swimsuits For All.

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She also worked for brands like Lucky Brand, Bare Necessities, and Lane Bryant and walked for New York Fashion Week in September 2017. That same year, Hunter began her body-positive movement called "All Worthy". She also became an advocate of mental health and an ambassador for the JED Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


In the latest issue of Health magazine, Hunter McGrady shared how she came across plus-size modeling during her break from the industry:

“Around the same time that I was working on all this body stuff, I saw an amazing magazine cover come out. It was Vogue Italia, with three models who are now my girlfriends—Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine, and Robyn Lawley. They were plus-size models—I didn't even know that was a thing! During my time off, I had grown physically and mentally. I thought, "These girls look like me now."

Following the discovery, Hunter McGrady signed a contract with Wilhelmina Models and was flown to Miami for Miami Swim Week. She started working for brands like Forever 21, Lucky Brand, Macy's, and Nordstrom, and realized she found what she had always wanted to do.


During her Sports Illustrated “In Her Own Words” feature in 2017, Hunter McGrady mentioned that she has been "a size two, a size 18, and everything in between". She also shared that her difficult journey has made her “worthy, fearless, confident, resilient, powerful and boundless.”

The SI model initially found the word “plus-size” slightly “segregating” and prefered the term “size-inclusive” instead. However, in her latest interview, Hunter mentioned she is now proud of the expression:

“It's funny, when I first started, I didn't want to say I was a plus-size model—I was just a model. And along the way, a lot of women were like, "I actually really love being called plus-size—I'm not ashamed of it." I am pro-woman—if you want to be called plus-size, great! For me, now, I'm like, "Hell yeah, I'm a plus-size model."

Hunter McGrady is currently in a relationship with Brian Keys. The duo got engaged in 2016 and recently welcomed a child together.


Edited by Abu Amjad Khan

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