Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Comes to Miami for Candid and Surprisingly Woke Conference

The first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was published in 1964. It is credited with legitimizing the bikini as apparel, and has launched, sometimes over night, the career of countless super models.

Many of these supermodels descended recently upon Overtown’s Ice Palace Studio’s, that’s right, Overtown. It was an engaging, candid, honest exposition about the behind the scene business of, ahem, super modeling. The “SI Swimsuit on Location” event was surprisingly under-attended. Maybe 500 on Saturday, mostly aspiring models. It was wildly personal and interactive. Models in attendance included Tyra Banks, Kate Upton, Barbara Palvin, Jasmine Sanders, Winnie Harlow, Olivia Culpo, Brooks Nader, Jessica Aidi and more.

The Miami event was good vibes. Like the best vibes.

For only $10, anyone was welcome. There were tons of activations, from photo shoots to hair and make-up parlors, to an open bar. 

MIAMI, FL – MAY 11: Hailey Clauson, Camille Kostek, Myla Dalbesio, Olivia Culpo, Samantha Hoopes and Tara Lynn attend the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit On Location Day 2 at Ice Palace on May 11, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Models have feelings and they were more than willing to talk about the haters, the body shaming, will and determination to succeed. They spoke of the bumps, bruises and scratches along the way, from plus size models to breaking the standard of American beauty.

They spoke of the sacrifice it takes to brand yourself. Also, how it’s not making a deal with the devil. Nor is it luck or a pretty face. It’s a grind.

Listening to Tyra Banks, who came out of a 16-year retirement for this year’s cover, was particularly inspiring. If you can’t vibe on Tyra’s truths, you buggin.

They spoke of the dark side of social media.

It was real. The whole event, and this is really surprising, was one of the more human experiences I’ve felt in Miami in a long time. 

It had me daydreaming. And I left with these thoughts..

I feel good about myself goddamn it. I’m smart enough, I’m skinny enough, I have enough followers, and goddamn it, people like me.

Tyra Banks at 45 who came out of retirement for this issue

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J.J. Colagrande

Has written about Miami culture for almost twenty years, first with The Miami Herald, then Miami New Times and Huffington Post. He's the publisher of The Jitney and a full-time professor.