The Australian beauty has been widely lauded as the magazine's first featured plus size model (she appeared in the issue as one of 2015's Rookies). This distinction, however, soon led to significant backlash, as critics took to social media to decry the use of "plus size" as a categorizing term for Lawley. For the record Lawley is 6'2" and a size 12, which is healthy for her height and average among women in the U.S., where the most common size is a 14.
The star opened up in a Today Show interview about her struggle to be accepted in the industry and, ultimately, in accepting her own body shape and size while growing up.
"On the runway it's mainly a size 0 to a size 4, and I am like triple the size of these girls," Lawley said.
The model detailed her Today experience to fans on Facebook: "Chatting with the @todayshow today about @si_swimsuit kudos to @mj_day I'm with everyone there that's [sic] it's ludicrous to call me plus size and I've stated that publicly pretty much every step of the way, of my career, si_swimsuit are at the forefront of embracing women of a variety of sizes! They've been doing that from the beginning and they have not once called me plus size, it's about time we forgo labels and embraced size diversity in the fashion world and mainstream media!!! #loveyournaturalsize," she wrote.
Robyn has spoken out about body image issues in the past, including when she penned a thigh gap ideology tear-down for the The Daily Beast in Oct. 2013. She also famously posted a bikini photo of herself sans any retouching back in July, modeling a sexy halter bikini from her own swimwear line. And there was, of course, that time when she and three other models recreated last year's Sports Illustrated cover, #realgirl style.
"When I first started I really had an immense hate for my body. I held it really accountable for holding me back," Robyn said. "And I just felt disappointed, you know, I was like ‘Why didn't I get a skinny body?' [This is] such a feat and I'm really happy and I'm so thrilled with Sports Illustrated for using me."
Well, so are we! And even more congrats are in order: It turns out that Robyn was one month pregnant at the time of the SI shoot: The model is expecting the arrival of her first child any day now.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue goes on sale February 9th.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)