The Sport Illustrated 2019 swimsuit issue is on stands now and in this special issue, Miami model Manuela Alvarez is making her debut and making history for being the first model from Medellin, Colombia to appear inside the pages of the much-awaited issue.
"Appearing inside the pages of Sports Illustrated has been a dream of mine for years. I always related to the models that have appeared in this magazine, their message and what they stand for," said Alvarez. "It's a huge achievement not only for me personally, but for my country!"
In this all-inclusive and diverse issue, Sports Illustrated made it a point to highlight and shatter all perception that beauty is a "one size fits all" idea, something that most models in the special spread had to endure, including Alvarez.
"I went to lots of agencies in Miami and I would be very confident and secure, and then I would be turned down by every single one of them," Alvarez said. "I thought because it was Miami they would love my curves, but it turns out they all hated them."
With this special spread Alvarez feels more confident than ever that Sports Illustrated is giving models like her who were discriminated for their natural looks a chance to shine and be proud of who they are
"It's all about breaking barriers, and showing the world that you do not need to fit into a standard mold to be able to embrace your natural beauty," said Alvarez. "It's so important that we all remember to live life for ourselves and not give into any of society's standards, we are all beautifully unique and we all need to tell our stories in our own way."
Alvarez's story in the United States began just 12 years ago when she moved to Miami from Medellin to join her mother, who was already living and working in South Florida.
She went through elementary and high school all while learning how to speak English, but her hard work paid off last fall when she finally graduated from FIU with a degree in marketing.
"To see how far I've gotten it is truly an amazing feeling," said Alvarez. "I'm so proud of myself and to be representing Colombia and Latinos in this issue."
To meet Alvarez and all the other models inside the 2019 issue, you can attend the two-day release party SI Swimsuit on Location Friday and Saturday at the Ice Palace Film Studios in Miami.
This will be the first time Sports Illustrated has released its swimsuit issue at an event in South Florida.