Hunter McGrady Talks Inclusivity In Fashion—Or Lack Thereof

In what feels like an endless scroll of unattainable bodies and faces on Instagram, model and activist Hunter McGrady is the “it” girl you never knew you needed. She’s taking over the fashion industry in more ways than one, and remaining humble af while she does it.

Her new fashion line, All Worthy by Hunter McGrady, recently launched with QVC. Think style meets comfort, with no limitations. With inclusive sizes ranging from XXS to 5X, McGrady is at the forefront of an important movement in women’s fashion and history—style for everybody, regardless of their size.

When she’s not designing beautiful clothing, you can find McGrady gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated, using her platform to uplift others, and donating her time and efforts to charity work.

I caught up with McGrady to ask her about her experience as a fashion model, what working in the industry was like for someone who’s not a size 0, what inspires her to keep going, and more.

On Her Journey As A Model

“So, I started in this business when I was 16 years old. I was six feet tall and about a size two. I was consistently told to lose weight off my hips, to lose inches, I mean—it was just a constant, ‘change this, change that.’ I was a kid, I wasn’t even developed, and I was still being told to lose weight. From ages 16 to 18, I tried being a straight-sized model and it was just really going against my natural body and how it was supposed to sit. It was also going against everything I started to believe in. Fast forward, I took a few years off, and at age 20 I started plus-size modeling. I had no idea about it because, again, this was something that was still very new. I never grew up seeing plus-size models. It was just not something that was in my magazines. I started plus-size modeling at size 14. I really had grown into my body and learned to love it after therapy and self-love, and finding who I was. Now I’ve been modeling for gosh, seven years.”

On Inclusive Brands

“To be completely transparent, there’s not a ton [of brands that support plus-size models]. I’ve always been a fan of Christian Siriano, he gets it every time. He always puts plus on the runway, he dresses the plus-size actresses. It’s funny, because I am friends with a couple of these girls who go to the Golden Globes, The Emmys, The Oscars, and we always joke about, “that’s it.” Of course, Jason Wu dresses larger, and there are some others as well, but it’s still very small. We are progressing, but very slowly. I would love to see more high-end designers jump on this train because, I mean, it’s 2020. 72% of America is a size 16 or above. The demand is outweighing the supply. I would love to see these companies take this chance. I think it’s a beautiful thing, bringing in a new fresh customer who has the money and is willing to spend. I still can’t go shop on Fifth Avenue or in SoHo… it doesn’t exist for me, and that’s crazy.”

On Areas Of The Industry That Need Improvement

“Brands across the board. Things you wouldn’t even think about. I mean, even finding underwear and lingerie for a larger girl is so hard, I can’t even tell you, and that’s a necessity. I always encourage brands to make a change, make a change past XL [size 12]. That’s not inclusive. I’m talking like really go up- 2X, 3X, 4X, 28, 30. Go larger, because the customer is there, and she WILL buy.”

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I’ve seen lots of negative “self talk” during this time, especially about our bodies. I think so many of us are feeling the pressures of having to fill every hour and every minute of the time we have right now. The truth is, we are going through a traumatic crisis and we may have the time in our days but most of us do not have the mental capacity. This is an event that none of us could have ever prepped for and our minds are still trying to wrap our head around this. I ask that you be kind to your body, Nurture your body, Love on your body fiercely,respect it, and even better, be PROUD of it. It’s getting you through this time! I stand with @anastasiagphoto to stop the body shame and love yourself, even during times of crisis. Here’s #MyQuarantineBody ❤️

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On Her Own Brand, All Worthy

“I was so fed up with plus-size women getting basically cut from fashion and not having fashionable things to wear. I felt like we were always put in something that was an afterthought. What is great and cool about my line is that it is designed from a plus-size perspective, and then sized down. In fashion, you will typically find the opposite. I just wanted to create fashionable pieces that look fabulous on everybody, and I believe that fashion is for every body, every size, every age. I was so sick of talking to my girlfriends that were smaller than me and saying, “omg, I love this dress, where did you get it?” and them naming a store where I could never shop. It’s nice to be able to have the same exact item, whether it’s XXS or 5X, where it costs the same too. For the fall line, I wanted to create something cozy and comfortable. I love mixing fashion and function… A lot of us right now are home, which is kind of perfect, because my whole aesthetic is kind of comfortable. I had already thought about this prior [to the pandemic], and now we’re home, so it works.”

Hunter McGrady

On Social Media And Its Impact

I think social media can be such a blessing but can also be such a curse. I had to learn that I have the power to follow people who make me feel good, people who resonate with me, people who are authentic. I can’t be in Bali every day with a fruit basket in the water with my boyfriend, that’s just not my realistic life. It looks fabulous, but for the majority, that’s just not what it is.

I had to do an [overhaul] and say, ‘ok I want to follow people who make me feel great,’ because I was noticing it was kind of seeping in, and I know this is the case for a lot of other people. This measuring up. ‘Why am I not doing XYZ? How come they did this?’ I think that social media is one of the biggest catalysts right now in the mental health problem in our world, and now we’re moving into TikTok and Facebook, and of course, it’s so fun… and I am not saying don’t look at that stuff, but just be cautious of who you are following. Follow people who have your same values and morals, people that make you feel good. We have the power to do that.

I know I try to be as realistic as I can on social media. I mean, the other day I was talking about nipple hair and butt acne—things that are opening the door for this conversation in women. I got such an overwhelming response of people being like, ‘wow I felt so alone in this.’ It was really eye-opening to me because we really shouldn’t [feel alone]. Social media can be this place to have these conversations. It’s important to find those people that, again, make you feel good and make you feel heard. That’s what we all want at the end of the day, to feel heard.”

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LETS TALK ABOUT BUTTS!!!! Earlier today I shared a story basically telling my followers that I don’t remember a time where I DIDNT have some kind of ingrown or pimple in between my legs and on my butt. I got an influx of DMs from both women AND men saying that they felt they were the ONLY ones to experience this. Welp. Let’s normalize it!!!! I’ve never in my life had a smooth, pimple free butt, I’ve never had smooth inner thighs that didn’t have discoloration or ingrowns, and I’ve never been without cellulite and stretch marks! It’s important to remember that what we see on social media is quite literally a “perfected” version of ourselves (I’m guilty of this too sometimes) and because we’re so used to seeing that in others, we feel alone in instances like this but alas, You’re very much not alone. Let’s be butt pimple friends, welcome to the club 😆❤️

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On Using Her Platform For Good

“I think the most important thing when you have a platform, you have a responsibility to talk about things that you are passionate about. Anything across the board, that is how we are lending our voices these days. I have used my platform to be loud about equality, body positivity, different movements, mental health, and as far as the fashion industry goes, I have no problem calling people (and brands) out who I find are hindering the progression of fashion and moving forward and inclusivity. Inclusivity across the board. For the last three fashion weeks, I have taken a stand and not attended any fashion shows that weren’t inclusive. Let me tell you, I had to turn down 60+ shows and I think that has been very eye-opening.

I encourage my friends to put our money where our mouth is. Dollars speak. We have to support brands that support us in our everyday life. Even my girlfriends who are women of color; I want to support them and buy from companies who are supporting them. There is still a long way to go.”

On Her Role Models And Influencers You SHOULD Follow

I have to shout out some of my girlfriends. Katie Sturino (@katiesturino) is one of my very very close friends. She keeps it so real—there is zero B.S. behind anything she does. Sarah Landry (@thebirdspapaya), she is absolutely amazing. She is a mom of three with one on the way, and she has a totally different perspective. She’s not plus, but she’s just a beautiful human. I love Maxey Greene (@maxeygreene), she has a really fun perspective. Right now, she’s pregnant, but she’s plus-sized, another thing that is never talked about in the media. You never see it. How your bump maybe doesn’t look totally perfect—so any plus-size pregnant mommas that have come to me, I’m like, ‘omg go check out Maxey. She’s amazing, she’s glowing, she’s a goddess.’ I would go through who I’m following, because I’m very proud of who I follow, and everyone has a very positive message.”

On Tips For Loving Yourself

“At 16 when I was told I had to lose weight, and then losing the weight and being so small, that really ended up being a huge detriment to my mental health. I struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life. I went to therapy and my therapist said, ‘Hunter, I want you to take a shower, I want you to take your makeup off, I want you to slick your hair back and look at yourself in the mirror naked and tell yourself 10 things that you want to love about yourself.’ I thought it was so crazy and sounded so silly, but whatever I am just going to appease her. I went home and I did it, and I broke down and felt very emotional. I realized that that’s what I needed to continue doing, and I’ve done it every single day since (not naked after the shower) just looking at myself in the mirror and doing affirmations. Telling myself how worthy I am to just see even another day here. My body has taken me here, my heart is still beating. Affirmations truly changed my life. The way our mind works, our mind follows, and what we tell it is what we believe. So, if we were so convinced the sky is gray, we would think the sky is gray. Think about that with your body, tell yourself how beautiful you are, how worthy and valued you are. That is one thing I have done for 15+ years and I always tell people, listen, it changed my life. Do it, trust me I know it sounds silly. I do it when I’m driving and everyone probably looks at me like I’m a cook but I don’t care because it’s what we need.”

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Maybe one of my favorite pictures of all time of me. I knew taking it that it would be. I felt sexy, I felt sure of myself, and utterly confident. You know, sometimes I don’t feel this way during shoots. I’m human, I have bad days and good days. I have days where I feel like a bad photo is inevitable because i don’t like my hair or my clothes or my poses, or my body, but then I look back and realize it wasn’t the photo, it wasn’t the hair, it wasn’t the clothes, or the poses or the body but rather the way I was thinking about myself that was the problem. Again, I’m human! We all have these days, albeit sometimes mine get captured. I always try to enter every day, every shoot, every encounter with the intention to have confidence, energy, and grace. ❤️

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On Four Consecutive ‘Sports Illustrated’ Spreads

“The fourth time feels like the first time. It’s still just as surreal and it’s still such a “pinch me” moment. I never thought as a size 18, which I am now, that I would be in a magazine like Sports Illustrated, but that just goes to show how amazing Sports Illustrated is. They really have been at the forefront of this entire inclusive movement. The reaction is always incredible. I get women being like ‘thank you so much’ because it’s nice to feel represented. I’m like, ‘don’t thank me, thank SI.’ It takes these publications to put women like me in them. We need to be seen, representation matters. It’s been amazing and I feel very proud to be a part of that family. Every year I feel like it’s more and more diverse.”

Images: Provided by Hunter McGrady, Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/huntermcgrady/, Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/qvc/