Yumi Nu Becomes the First ‘Asian Curve’ Model for Sports Illustrated

Yumi Nu

Model and singer-songwriter Yumi Nu made history by becoming Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s first “Asian curve” model.

History in the making: Nu, who is of Japanese and Dutch descent, broke the news in an Instagram post on March 18, announcing her cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s 2021 Rookie of the Year, according to Today.

 

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  • “What an incredible honor it is to be in such an inclusive and beautiful magazine that has pushed the envelope since day 1,” Nu said while thanking her agents and the team working for the magazine. “I’m so proud to be making history as the first Asian curve Sports Illustrated model.”
  • In a video posted the same day, Nu said being featured in the magazine’s upcoming swimsuit issue is important to her and others who look like her.

 

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  • “For Asian American women, there’s a lot of shame in flaunting your body and feeling sexy. And I think for me as a plus-size model, we’ve had to evolve and battle this like, inner voice that hasn’t evolved,” Nu said. “I’m plus size and Asian. That’s why I’m like, this is important. I want to do as much as I can to show other people that we don’t have to be dainty and little. I can say, I know that in myself, I’m beautiful.”

 

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Creating a platform: The cover star wanted her story to spread love and fight the model minority myth that was silencing the community leading up to the violence against Asians and Asian Americans.

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  • Nu felt it was important to share the story of her Japanese heritage as anti-Asian hate continues across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she told People.
  • “Our society’s view of Asians in the model minority myth lens has silenced us for many years,” she said. “In this time of anti-Asian violence, it’s so important now more than ever for Asian people to be heard and supported. The division and racism in our world has gotten so bad; we’ve grown so far from love and connection.”
  • Her life mission is to create a safe space for people who want to be heard.

 

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  • On March 17, Nu took to her Instagram account to speak up against the rising violence against Asian Americans.
  • “My heart is with the Asian community right now,” she said in her post. “There’s not much to say to ease the pain, but all we can do is stick together and continue to fight the fight.”

 

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  • “We work with a lot of incredible women. Yumi, however, possesses the most amount of confidence and appreciation for herself and body that we’ve seen,” MJ Day, editor-in-chief of the magazine’s swimsuit issue, said in a statement. “She doesn’t hold herself to any traditional beauty standards and is gracefully unapologetic for seeing herself as a powerful, beautiful, sensual woman.”

Who is Yumi Nu:  Nu said she started modeling as a baby but had to stop because she was crying too much, she told Into the Gloss in 2019. She later continued to pursue her dreams at 12 years old.

 

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  • Nu grew up in Maryland and New Jersey, but her family moved to Newport Beach, California when she was 15.
  • She took up singing lessons at 12 years old, began writing music at 15, and released her first song a year after that. She credited her uncle, famous Japanese American DJ Steve Aoki, as an influence.
  • “I came back to modeling in 2016, after I found my worth and a love of my body,” Nu said. “I was so tired of holding this stress of always thinking, ‘I’ll be happy when I’m 40 or 50 pounds lighter.’ It felt like I’d spent my whole life chasing a number on the scale. I just decided I wasn’t going to live by that anymore.”
  • Nu is also launching her own clothing line that will offer sustainable and ethically sourced apparel in plus-sizes.

Feature Image via @_yumi_nu

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