13 Times Models Redefined What It Means to Be Sexy
These gorgeous ladies showed us that sexy is not one-size-fits all.
Stereotypically, models are always described as looking a certain way. But there is no one way to be sexy, and these models prove that. Many of them are outspoken about how they don’t fit the typical mold and their confidence makes them even sexier. Check out some images below.
Campbell has the reputation of being one of the world’s most beautiful women. She was one of the first real supermodels and took the world by storm. But she has been honest about how differently she views herself, and told Good Morning Britain, “I’ve always been self-conscious of my body. When I first got to New York, if I wore something tight, I would wrap a cardigan around me to hide my back.” She is not afraid to call herself a feminist and has said, “For me, it’s being a strong woman. People interpret being a strong woman in different ways. She’s a strong woman … who gets it done. Men always get well done. Women get, “She’s a b-tch and she’s this and that.” Campbell has also discussed the racist abuse she received at the age of just five when a little boy called her the N-word. “And at five I know this was wrong, I am not going to accept this and I fought back. It’s not acceptable. It’s not acceptable anywhere in the world.”
Teigen is a personal hero to many women out there. She is outspoken, hilarious on Twitter, a fantastic cook, and incredibly open about what its like to be a new mom. She is also incredibly honest about her body, including stretch marks and plastic surgery. She has had treatments done, including liposuction and fillers. She is not ashamed to say that she has had work done because it made her feel better about herself, which is an empowering reminder that plastic surgery or other work is a purely personal choice and should not be criticized. Teigen has also shared images of her stretch marks and openly discussed how her post-breastfeeding boobs are lopsided.
At only 16, the Brazilian was the youngest model to ever pose for Victoria’s Secret catalog. Soon after, she was signed to Versace, Ralph Lauren and Valentino. She’s a boss lady, and in 2008, made the Forbes’ list of top-earning models. She’s posed for many magazines, including Vogue and Elle. In a La Perla ad with Kendall Jenner and Liu Wen, Fontana is seen standing in front of feminist symbols like broken glass, a burning bra and a Victorian-era corset. The campaign was about “the liberation of every woman from the need to suffer for beauty.”
Ashley Smith, born and raised in Texas, fell in love with the fashion industry when she moved to New York at 18-years-old. But the fashion industry didn’t love her right away. But that didn’t stop her from trying. Never one to shy away from standing out in a crowd, the self-described punk kid was put in the box at the beginning. Though casting agents loved the gap between her front teeth, they told her that her body was not what they were looking for. She thought about quitting, but went to Paris first and got all the shows she was told she’d never get: She walked in Chanel at the Grand Palais, Balenciaga, and Prada and earlier this year, she was featured in Sports Illustrated. The now 24-year-old credits social media with helping to widen the scope of the fashion industry.
Sui He was the first model of East Asian descent to open for Ralph Lauren. She has also work with Roberto Cavalli, Christian Dior and Karl Lagerfeld. She is the second model of Chinese descent to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, but she has managed to fly under the radar since her modeling debut in 2010. She’s walked in the VS Fashion Show five times, and started modeling at 17-years-old. She was the first Chinese face of Shiseido Makeup in 2012 and is also an actress.
Graham is non-stop inspiring. In 2015, she gave a TED talk about body acceptance. She helped found ALDA, which is a collective of models who represent “beauty beyond size.” The group challenges the narrow perspectives of the fashion industry. The model was featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, which celebrates 600 of the biggest upcoming entrepreneurs and change-makers.
The French model describes her look as “strong and edgy, but also very sexy. I am a wildcat.” The 25-year-old brunette has deep brown eyes and angular bone structure that the camera loves, and her personality lights up the room, writes Cosmopolitan. Rau, who was born a male and started transitioning at 16-years-old, began modeling two years ago with a spread in American Playboy. Since then, she has been featured with Tyson Beckford in OOB magazine and shot by Bruce Weber for Barneys New York. She says, “I wanted to be a model, but never thought I could. Becoming a good-looking woman was already a blessing to me, then a fashion model. It’s a real Cinderella story I’m starring in…I still can’t believe it.”
Marilyn Monroe essentially defined what it meant to be sexy for decades. But she was very open about what that meant, and towards the end of her career, said that her “popularity seems almost entirely a masculine phenomenon.” She was the second woman to head her own production company and spoke out about the sexual abuse she faced as a child and an adult. She also stood up for other women: When Ella Fitzgerald couldn’t be booked at the Hollywood nightclub because she was African-American, Monroe called the owner and said she would sit at a table in the front of the room every night Fitzgerald performed, reports Makers.
At 5’11”, Karlsson is already a dominating presence in a room, but her gorgeous hair makes her beauty feel even more expansive. Karlsson’s beauty is striking, but she looks like no other model: her face is covered with auburn freckles and there is a gap in her front teeth. She was discovered at the age of four in Sweden, and she booked shows across Europe by age 15. But she was unhappy and found herself working out excessively and eating poorly in order to maintain a “straight-size” model weight. So she stopped treating her body that way. She turned her focus toward improving her health and embracing her natural shape. “I’m so much happier,” she says, according to Cosmo. “People appreciate seeing people they can relate to — seeing real bodies and real women. [I have] realized that this is where I should be, and this is where I should’ve been from the start.”
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Queens, New York, Mota was one of the most recognizable faces on the model scene during the early 2000s. Her tough-girl attitude and androgynous good looks made her stand out. She rose to the top of the industry with her sexy, confident beauty, and appeared alongside Naomi Campbell in Jay-Z’s “Change Clothes” video and has walked for Tom Ford, Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano. She is also an actress.
Tara Lynn spoke out about not being comfortable in her own skin and being bullied as a teenager, saying, “I was a size 14/16 in high school, and it wasn’t the easiest thing. (…) As a 16, I definitely felt like my weight was holding me back. I was supposed to have these bones protruding from my body and clearly that’s not the case, and not the way my body’s meant to be,” according to Style Has No Size. But now, the gorgeous model proudly displays her curves. She has been featured in V and the French Elle, Vogue Italia, Elle-Québec, Glamour and Time magazine, among others.
Wen is one of China’s biggest supermodels and is absolutely rocking the industry. She is the first model of East Asian descent to walk in Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, the first spokesmodel for Estée Lauder, and the first to make Forbes annual highest-paid models list.
Denise Bidot decided at a young age to not follow her mother down the path of constantly struggling with her weight. At 29, Bidot has a successful modeling career and a seven-year-old daughter of her own who looks up to her gorgeous mom. Bidot never compromised who she was for the industry: When she moved to LA at 18, she was told to lose some weight. She wouldn’t do that, so she became a make-up artist which eventually led to her becoming a model.
Hunter McGrady is one of 2018’s Rookies in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit edition. In an Instagram post announcing the big news, McGrady thanked all the women before her for breaking the glass ceilings that “have so desperately needed to be broken for so long.” She writes that she feels “so grateful to be able to share these moments with women and men around the world who have never felt like they had a place because media has brainwashed us into thinking we have to fit a certain mold in order to fit in and be beautiful.” At nearly 6-feet-tall and a size 16, McGrady says she is thankful to be able to continue the conversation about body positivity and also hopes to contribute to the rise of powerful women. “Women are fierce, we are brave, we are changing the narrative and we are a force to be reckoned with,” she writes.