Leyna Bloom and Yumi Nu are the New SI Models Paving the Way for Inclusivity
Leyna Bloom and Yumi Nu are the newest Sports Illustrated models that have made history this year. The first Black-Asian, and curvy Asian models, respectively, are proving that women of all sizes and colors can stand out in fashion.
The narrative for inclusivity in the fashion world has been picking up in recent years, and two new Asian models are now breaking through barriers by being featured in one of the biggest magazines in the world, Sports Illustrated.
Leyna Bloom, a Chicago native is the first Asian transgender and black model to appear on the magazine. She followed the footsteps of Valentina Sampaio, the first transgender to grace SI’s pages.
Sports Illustrated editor MJ Day praised the Filipino model for her “undeniable sense of self that shines through the minute she walks on set.”
“We are honored to have her in this year’s issue and understand the effect it will have on so many others,” Day said.
“She joins our team, not because of what she represents but because of her beauty, commitment, and desire to leave the world a better place.”
The model first gained recognition in 2017 when she became one of the first models to walk in the New York Fashion Week. Bloom is also the first woman of color that was featured in Vogue India. Because of her achievements, she was named by Glamour as one of the “Six Women Who Are Shaping the Future of Fashion.”
The model also dabbles in acting, and she made her debut in “Port Authority,” a film by Danielle Lessovitz, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2019. The film is also the first-ever film in festival history where a transgender woman took the leading role.
“Her presence as the first trans woman of color to be in our issue is a result of her lifetime dedication to forging her own path that has led to acceptance, love, and change,” shared Day.
Singer-songwriter and model Yumi Nu also made history as the first curvy Asian Sports Illustrated Model. The Japanese-Dutch model opened up in an Instagram video about what the shoot meant to her, and for other plus-sized women.
“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. I’m plus size and Asian. That’s why I’m like, this is important,” she said, adding that she wants to do as much as she can to show other women do not have to be little and dainty. Now, she can confidently say that she is beautiful.
Nu is also not afraid to speak up about Asian hate.
“Our society’s view of Asians in the model minority myth lens has silenced us for many years. In this time of anti-Asian violence it’s so important now more than ever for Asian people to be heard and supported,” she shared in an interview with People Magazine.
Even Day was impressed with Nu’s beauty and confidence, saying that they have worked with a lot of incredible women but Yumi possesses the most amount of appreciation for her body and herself.
“She doesn’t hold herself to any traditional beauty standards and is gracefully unapologetic for seeing herself as a powerful, beautiful, sensual woman. She shows up for women in a strong way and is on a mission to end the conversation around limiting women in the industry.”
Not only is she stunning, and an extraordinary model, but she radiates warmth and the kind of energy that we always want around. Yumi’s photos are some of my favorites and so is she!” said the editor.
The new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue will be available on July 20.