Inclusivity is really important to us in the Taylor Magazine community, and Hunter McGrady is all about this too. She describes herself as a “plus-sized model and an advocate for body positivity and inclusivity.” She fights strongly and fiercely to make sure everyone feels there is space for them, but still feels like there is work to be done: “Until I can feel represented on every street corner, television screen and magazine, then my work is not done yet,” she tells us.
We love Hunter’s dedication to make people feel included – she started the #AllWorthy movement, as well as Babe Body, which lets women work out without feeling uncomfortable, out of place or unwanted. She’s all about people feeling confident and happy within themselves, and we love it.
We caught up with her and talked about everything from her Sports Illustrated shoot, what it was like to be the first plus-sized model on the cover of bridal magazine The Knot, and how she wants to change the fashion community.
“I wanted a community for men and women to feel like they can talk to one another and feel empowered. I started with the hashtag #AllWorthy and it grew. We’re all worthy of feeling beautiful and loved, and that’s the message we’re trying to get across.” – Hunter McGrady
Taylor Magazine: How did you get started in the modelling world?
Hunter McGrady: I got started because my mum was a model and I saw her doing that growing up. My dad is also an actor and has been for the past 38 years – being in that industry was always something that I felt I wanted to do. When somebody brought out a camera, I would just come alive and it felt very natural to me. It was a way I could express myself. I started at sixteen years old and I was a straight size model. Then about seven years ago, I entered into the plus-size modelling community.
Taylor Magazine: What were the obstacles you faced, and was it a difficult transition?
Hunter McGrady: I knew going into this industry that it was going to be a long road. There were going to be changes to be made, slowly and steadily. Something I always fight for is true inclusivity – it’s definitely an ongoing fight. I think that it’s important to use your voice the best way you can. I believe that there is so much more to be done in the plus-size movement. Until I can feel represented on every street corner, television screen and magazine, then my work is not done yet.
“Something I always fight for is true inclusivity – it’s definitely an ongoing fight. I think that it’s important to use your voice the best way you can.” – Hunter McGrady
Taylor Magazine: Tell us more about your Babe Body and All Worthy campaigns – they sound really inspiring!
Hunter McGrady: Babe Body is something I created with a friend of mine – we were both talking at lunch one day about how everyone would come to us when we posted work out videos saying that they wish they could feel confident enough to go to the gym, how they feel out of place and people are looking at them. So, we go around to different studios in New York, creating classes and rallying up however many spaces we can get. It’s for everybody – we really promote just being you and having fun and if you need to stop, stop. Don’t be pressured into doing anything you don’t want to do, or pushing yourself more than you can. We work out in sports bras and we show people that it’s okay to have rolls, cellulite and stretch marks. It’s been amazing. Every class that we’ve done, we’ve sold out and have had a waiting list – we’re hoping to expand eventually.
All Worthy is a hashtag I created about three years ago for Sports Illustrated. I wanted a community for men and women to feel like they can talk to one another and feel empowered. I started with the hashtag #AllWorthy and it grew. There’s so many women lifting each other up and saying, “I’m struggling with the same thing but you look amazing, let’s be friends and let’s talk about this.” We’re all worthy of feeling beautiful and loved, and that’s the message we’re trying to get across.
Taylor Magazine: What was it like being on Sports Illustrated?
Hunter McGrady: When I first booked it, I knew that it wasn’t only going to be a big moment for myself and my career, but it was going to be a big moment for women everywhere who never felt like they could open a magazine and relate to somebody. I was the curviest girl they had in their magazine and I hold that title so proudly. Each year, Sports Illustrated just ups the ante and they continue to bring inclusive, diverse issues to the forefront. It takes the people at the top to make those changes and it’s important that SI is doing that to make the domino effect happen.
When I saw the Sports Illustrated pictures, I was in tears. It was so emotional and wonderful to see myself in that way, without being asked to change. For so long with modelling, so many models are asked to change themselves and I wasn’t asked to change myself for this shoot. The Editor in Chief said come as you are. I did, and it was wonderful.” – Hunter McGrady
Taylor Magazine: What was the response like?
Hunter McGrady: I felt absolutely amazing and it was the most confident I’ve ever felt. I was completely naked and covered in body paint and I felt so empowered. I felt very comfortable with the team and in my skin because they never made me feel like anything less than that. When it came out and I saw the pictures, I was in tears. It was so emotional and wonderful to see myself in that way, without being asked to change. For so long with modelling, so many models are asked to change themselves and I wasn’t asked to change myself for this shoot. The Editor in Chief basically said come as you are. I did, and it was wonderful.
Taylor Magazine: When you think about female body confidence in this day and age, with social media and the digital world, it’s so different to what it would have been 10 or 20 years ago. What are the positives and negatives of social media in relation to confidence?
Hunter McGrady: I think it can be a blessing and a curse. There are a lot of people on social media who are portraying a certain lifestyle that is unattainable. I think people often feel inadequate or feel that they can’t measure up to that. It’s our duty to protect ourselves and our mental health by following people who inspire us. We have the capability to do that. We can literally follow and unfollow anybody we want. There are so many people who have a positive message that you can follow, and these people can make you feel good about yourself. That keeps us sane. If you have to go through your social media once every month and get rid of people who don’t bring anything to your life, go for it.
Taylor Magazine: You were on the cover of The Knot recently and you look beautiful – tell me about your wedding!
Hunter McGrady: The Knot approached me and said that they never had a plus-size model on their cover before and they wanted me to be the first. I was getting married at the same time, and actually designed the dress that is on the cover, which was my wedding dress as well. That was such an empowering experience for me, because wedding dress shopping was something I didn’t enjoy at all! I couldn’t find styles that fit me, or things that were my style. We all have the dream of ‘the dress’ – and I couldn’t find it. I got such an incredible response from women from all over saying they were finally excited about getting married, because they felt represented and seen. That was so important to me.
My wedding was incredible – I wish I could do it every day! I had a really beautiful experience and I was very much in the moment. The best piece of advice I could give a bride to be would be “just enjoy it.” Remember that all of this is about is you and the commitment of the person you are marrying. I think a lot of people forget that. I would marry my husband with a piece of string around my finger in my living room. The wedding itself was just the cherry on top.
Taylor Magazine: We’re all about self-love – when things are stressful, how do you wind down?
Hunter McGrady: I get massages a lot – about two a month. It’s also so important to meditate and space out. I’ll go and work out, take a spin class, something that’s good for me and my mental health. I’ll feel really accomplished and energised afterwards, and that’s so important. If we’re not at our best, we can’t give our best.
Taylor Magazine: If you could go back in time and give your 16-year-old self some words of wisdom, what would they be?
Hunter McGrady: I would tell her to not worry so much. Everything will work out the way it’s supposed to – enjoy your teenage years. Enjoy being with your friends, not having responsibilities and allow yourself to just breathe.
Taylor Magazine: So… what are you working on that we should look out for?
Hunter McGrady: I’m going to be working on some amazing passion projects and of course, inspiring change in the fashion community and bringing inclusivity to the forefront!