From a size two to a size 16, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, Hunter McGrady used to spend hours sweating away at the gym and starving herself to maintain her small frame.

But she was unhappy, and didn’t book any modelling gigs, “My hips were always the bigger part of my body, and I was already so thin that I couldn’t keep shaving them down. I physically could not. And everyone was telling me that I could,” McGrady, now 23, tells People Magazine. “At that time I thought my dreams of becoming a model were crushed.”

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#flashbackfriday At age 15 I was told by 4 agencies that I needed to lose 3 inches off of my hips to be a model which would have put me at a size 00. I would desperately work out for hours and eat few calories per day, HOPING I could fit the bill. It wasn't until 18 years old, 3 years of insecurities brought on because I thought I wasn't good enough, that I wouldn't measure up! I realized that my body was not built to be that thin. Today, I'm so thankful I'm able to pursue my dream and still promote a healthy body image. He will fill the desires of your heart! Chains are broken! I see it in so many young girls these days who are striving to have a thigh gap, or for their hip bones to stick out, or to fit a size 0. Not everyone's body structure is made like that. Be the healthiest you, you can be. Be active, use the things God provided for you, focus on HIM and Embrace the body The Lord gave you! HE CREATED YOU IN HIS PERFECT IMAGE! You can't deny his sweet creations!

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But even when she did book a job, it wouldn’t go well, “I walked into one of my first modelling jobs as a size four. They looked at me and said, ‘We didn’t realize you were this big,’ and they sent me home,” she recalled. “And I was so upset, and so livid, that I was getting picked at, already, at just a young 16-years-old.”

RELATED: The 2017 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

After all those years of struggling the model decided to accept her body, “I love my body now. I love everything about it,” she says. “I’ve been an 18, I’ve been a 10/12, and I’ve been everything in between. Right now I sit at a 16, and I love it, because this is my God-given body.”

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Someone commented one of my posts this morning saying "stop hating on skinny people" and to that I replied "pull up one post where I have ever shown anything but love for every BODY and I will label myself a fraud." What I promote is not strictly being curvy. Do i support it and think you should Rock it out? yes. Do I think if you're thin you should rock that out as well? ABSOLUTELY. What I promote is a HEALTHY BODY IMAGE. Ive been on both ends of the spectrum. I was not happy or healthy when I weighed 114 lbs. and starved myself to make other people happy. I was living for what I thought I was supposed to look like. If you are naturally born with a stature like that then that is wonderful. I am not, and I will never apologize for that. I promote being the best you. Get honest with yourself! Love your body, don't ever hide it or apologize for it. Like I've said many times before, skinny, curvy, athletic, short, tall, black, white, blue, whatever you are. You are perfect. Don't let anyone tell you you need to change. If you're happy, don't change a damn thing about yourself. #effyourbeautystandards #nowrongwaytobeawoman #curves #athletic #skinny #beautiful #wilhelminacurve #daretobedifferent #imnoangel

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When McGrady heard about “curve modelling” about four years ago, she went to Wilhelmina Models and they signed her on the spot. Since then she has modelled for Lucky Brand, Bare Necessities and Lane Bryant. But her dream was the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, and for this year’s issue she made it.

“I always told myself that one way or another I was going to get in there,” she confessed.

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The issue came out Feb. 15 featuring McGrady in a stunning tie-die one piece, “It’s a moment – not just for me, but for women in history – to be in this issue. Finally, we’re being heard,” she said.

“I just want women to see this and feel inspired and feel sexy and feel like they can own their body and own their skin. And men, too!”