Chrissy Teigen Talks Diversity in Modeling, Calls Asians "Underrepresented" at Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Launch

2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model shares her thoughts on visibility and cultural appropriation

By Alana Moskowitz Feb 18, 2017 1:23 AMTags
Watch: Chrissy Teigen Talks Lack of Diversity in Modeling Industry

This swimsuit model is never shy about making waves.

Last night at the Sports Illustrated Swim 2017 launch party, Chrissy Teigen took a moment for some straight talk with E! News about what she feels are the continued strides that are needed in the modeling industry when it comes to diversity.

Teigen, who is Thai, German and Norwegian, spoke talked about her own experience as a mixed-race woman and dealing with stereotypes, saying, "I think its really important to start embracing people...seeing them in roles that are not necessarily 'That Asian Girl' or 'That Asian Boy.'"

She added, "I want it to be a normal thing to be able to see Asian models, and I think Asian models are really underrepresented in the industry, especially on the runways or in magazines."

Chrissy Teigen's Best Looks

This is not the first time Teigen, who starred on the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover with Lily Aldridge and Nina Agdal, has sounded off on the matter— her sarcastic response to the exclusively white and blond Miss Teen USA 2016 finalists received over 100,000 retweets.

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

The problem isn't limited to the modeling industry, either, Chrissy says. The lack of diversity in film is so drastic that "in movies you're like 'Oh, this Asian girl is dating this white guy'—I want that to be normal," she told us.

Her husband, John Legend, has spoken out on the issue as well.

In response to the infamous #OscarsSoWhite controversy last year, the "All of Me" singer, who recently became a member of the Academy, pointed out that the problem with diversity in media was about more than just an award show. Legend explained that if people of color aren't being given good roles, it's impossible for them to earn nominations; according to the singer, the problem "runs through Hollywood."

Celebrities Discuss Diversity in Hollywood
James Macari/Sports Illustrated

Teigen also shared on her thoughts on cultural appropriation. Overall, she had pretty mixed feelings on the subject, stating, "I personally am not offended by cultural appropriation of any sort because I feel like it does pay homage, but at the same time there are a lot of beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Asian women that could do the same thing."

While many Asian models struggle to break into the entertainment industry—modeling or otherwise—Teigen has been fortunate, something she is well aware of and humbled by. "It's really nice to be able to come up in a magazine and make your people proud...My mom every day is like 'Oh my god, Thailand is so excited that you're in the issue!' and I'm like 'Oh my god, Thailand knows about me!'"

Chrissy Teigen is featured in the 2017 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, her first time in the magazine as a mom, alongside models such as Ashley Graham, Hannah Jeter and this year's cover girl, Kate Upton.