SI Swim model Natalie Mariduena wants to ‘be an example’ of ‘body normality’

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Natalie Mariduena, an SI swimsuit model who has nearly four million followers on Instagram alone, hopes to raise awareness of “body normality.”

The model first graced the magazine’s pages in 2021 and was featured in this year’s issue. available on newsstands now.

“In the industry, you see models that are very skinny or plus-size models, but there is no such genre of modeling that is right in the middle,” the Chicago native told Fox News Digital. “I try to champion that for other people. I want to be an example of that and show that it’s cool and beautiful.” [On social media] I show my body, I show my life, I show what I represent and what I value without a filter. Whether it’s a picture in a bikini or just a picture of me on the street in a cute outfit, I want to show that normal body size is valued.”

For this year's SI Swimsuit Issue, Natalie Mariduena was photographed by Yu Tsai in Belize.

For this year’s SI Swimsuit Issue, Natalie Mariduena was photographed by Yu Tsai in Belize.
(Yu Tsai/SI swimsuit)

The 25-year-old insisted that she wants to use her platform to show her followers that you don’t have to rely on filters and Photoshop to look beautiful.

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“I have so many fans who are young women, very impressionable and who see me as an example to themselves,” she said. “I try to connect with people, whether it’s through direct messages or the comments section. I’m often told, ‘I have your body type, thanks for showing this.'” These people are showing their appreciation towards me and I want to return that love. Because I have this platform, I think it’s more important than ever to bring positivity to women.”

Mariduena praised SI Traje de Baño for celebrating different body typesas well as women of various ages. For the 2022 edition, Mariduena was photographed in Belize by veteran photographer Yu Tsai.

Natalie Mariduena made her SI swimsuit debut in 2021.

Natalie Mariduena made her SI swimsuit debut in 2021.
(Neserin Danan)

“It’s the best feeling in the world as a model to be a part of a magazine that accepts you and celebrates you for being you,” she said. “I remember that we ended up shooting about 15 bikinis bright and early that day, in the jungle. I’m in waterfalls, I’m lying on rocks, I’m hanging from bridges, standing in rivers… [but] it was like a little party. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the photos, but there are like 20-25 people standing behind the camera yelling at you, cheering you on and motivating you. They’re throwing a little dance party for you.”

Although this was not the first time that Mariduena had appeared in the magazine, her photos this year left her stunned, she insisted.

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“I was in shock,” he said. “I saw some of the photos while we were taking them, but seeing them in the actual magazine is such a surreal feeling. It’s so strange that this girl from a small town in Illinois just had no idea that things like this were a possibility for her. … And being a part of ‘Sports Illustrated’ is probably one of the most empowering experiences I’ve ever had. I get to celebrate my body. They’re so inclusive and accepting. They do such a great job of including all women and creating such a responsive community that encourage each other.”

Natalie Mariduena walks for the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show during Paraiso Miami Beach at Mondrian South Beach on July 10, 2021, in Miami, Florida.

Natalie Mariduena walks for the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show during Paraiso Miami Beach at Mondrian South Beach on July 10, 2021, in Miami, Florida.
(John Parra/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

Despite her accomplishments, Mariduena said she doesn’t always wake up feeling like a supermodel. Like anyone else, there are days when she could use a much-needed confidence boost. And those are the times when she enjoys unplugging from social media.

Natalie Mariduena said that it is important that all bodies are represented in the fashion industry.

Natalie Mariduena said that it is important that all bodies are represented in the fashion industry.
(Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

“On those days, I do what I love,” he said. “i love good food. I love visiting my favorite restaurant. I love my healthy food and I love my junk food. I think it’s all about balance. I just like to give a day to myself. It can be something as simple as staying home and enjoying a good meal or going to the beach. I also love leaning on my friends. I think it’s important to have a positive and supportive circle to fall back on whenever you feel down. I know they always drive me crazy. Being told: ‘You’re doing great, keep going’ is very helpful. I am so lucky to have that support system. I think it’s very important”.

Mariduena has more than 8 million followers on her social media platforms. She is known for promoting “Do Good” initiatives that focus on sustainability, female empowerment, and body positivity. She said they are essential now more than ever.

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Natalie Mariduena has more than 8 million followers on her social media platforms.

Natalie Mariduena has more than 8 million followers on her social media platforms.
(Neserin Danan)

“I think cyberbullying is very prominent on social media,” he said. “It is very important to spread positivity and love for other people. Even when someone is doing well, you want to support and motivate them. Your words, whether you have a large following or just your circle of friends, are important. Your words affect people’s lives. people. There’s no need for hate and negativity. That’s the message I want to share.”

Natalie Mariduena said that she wants her social media platforms to be a safe space for her followers.

Natalie Mariduena said that she wants her social media platforms to be a safe space for her followers.
(Neserin Danan)

“When I was younger, and I think this is typical of a lot of girls in high school, I always felt like I needed to look a certain way or act a certain way to impress social circles,” she continued. “It wasn’t until college that I realized that being different, being outside the norm, is so much cooler. I think that’s been the big key to my success. I don’t always follow the trend if it doesn’t feel right.” I dress how I want, which makes me feel good. I follow my head and my heart. It seems to be working so far.”

Mariduena said her goal is to collaborate with more fashion brands and designers in hopes that her body type will be seen by others who can identify with her. She praised how the modeling industry has evolved over the years and she is eager to see what else she can do for women.

Natalie Mariduena attends as

Natalie Mariduena attends as “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit” celebrates the launch of the 2022 edition and the debut of Pay With Change at Hard Rock Seminole on May 21, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida.
(Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit)

“I’m a fashion girl at heart,” she said. “And I hope that women see me as a source of identification. I hope that when women see me, they can see a part of themselves and feel represented. That’s my goal. I want women to feel that they can too and their dreams they can be a possibility. It was a possibility for me.”

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