HomeLGBTQLauren Chan makes history in SI Swimsuit Rookie issue

Lauren Chan makes history in SI Swimsuit Rookie issue

Lauren Chan is officially the first openly queer plus-size model for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Rookie, Allure reports. She came out in the magazine’s most recent swimsuit issue.

In her piece for the SI Rookie issue, How I Came Out, Got Divorced, and Landed in SI Swimsuit, Chan discussed her vast career experience, from being the fashion features editor at Glamour to founding a size-inclusive clothing brand. She has always striven to represent women who look like her, but now, she seeks to also “celebrate us for who we are on the inside, too.” 

Chan has collaborated with high-end brands like Chanel and Vera Wang. She has also served as an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association and worked on the advisory board for the Model Alliance. 

SI’s Swimsuit, according to Allure, is often thought of as a predominantly male sought-after publication but for Chan, making her announcement through SI Swimsuit felt like the “right place.” 

“In the current political climate, with a record 400-plus anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the United States this year to date, SI Swimsuit felt like a platform whose reach could make a real difference at a pivotal time,” Chan writes. 

When Chan recorded and sent her casting tape for SI Swimsuit, it was the first time she talked about her recent divorce and coming out as a lesbian at 32, the model told PEOPLE

“It was quite vulnerable and, to be honest, I was worried I’d overshared,” she said in a behind-the-scenes interview with PEOPLE. 

Even with her extensive work with size-inclusion in the fashion industry, Chan realized that coming out as queer allowed her to see her body in a new perspective—one that she hopes to bring to SI Swimsuit

“I definitely had ‘not-hating-my-body’ down,” she said in her tape submission. “But only since coming out do I feel genuine love for it.” 

Two months later, SI Swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day reached out letting Chan know that she would be the new SI Swimsuit Rookie model for their May 2023 issue.

“I could feel her support and encouragement through Zoom,” she said to PEOPLE. “I felt immediately committed to showing up as my whole self throughout this experience in hopes that it helps readers do the same in their lives.”

Day echoed this sentiment in SI’s press release introducing Chan and expressing her excitement for Chan joining the SI Swimsuit family.  

“Show us a person that’s more ambitious, driven and focused than Lauren Chan,” Day said in SI Swimsuit. “We’ll wait…. This model turned editor turned designer then back to model has had quite the career trajectory. She uses her platform to advocate for size inclusivity and creates content with purpose that is both relatable and captivating.”

The Canadian model also enjoys discussing important topics relating to mental health, sexuality, and body inclusivity. As SI Swimsuit Rookie, Chan hopes to provide a new form of representation for others who share her identities, Chan said to PEOPLE. 

“I’m so excited for a chapter with SI Swimsuit in which I get to celebrate women for who we are, what we have to say and what change we can effect. I’m a size 14, I’m Asian and Middle Eastern, I’m queer; and I’m proud to be in the pages of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit in order to represent the continued dismantling of the beauty ideal.”

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