Image Source: Getty / Cindy Ord Hunter McGrady has been breaking barriers in the fashion world ever since her first appearance in Sports Illustrated's 2017 Swimsuit Issue (it's no surprise that she calls that issue her most prized possession). The curve model has been an outspoken advocate for inclusivity in the media, challenging the stigma around the term "plus-size" and encouraging women to wear clothes that make them feel empowered, regardless of their size.
That push for self-acceptance extends to brides-to-be and the societal pressure women face to get in shape for their wedding day. Hunter, who got married in June, doesn't subscribe to the idea of "shedding before the wedding" and instead advises that women focus on the commitment aspect and enjoy the planning process, instead of stressing about a goal weight.
We caught up with Hunter at POPSUGAR Play/Ground, where she was speaking on a panel discussing inclusivity in fashion. In addition to talking about the highs and lows of planning her own wedding, she also discussed her personal style, the trends she's loving right now, and the one piece of clothing that always makes her feel like a badass.
POPSUGAR: How would you define your own personal style?
Hunter McGrady: Gosh, I would say "ever-changing." I've never really identified with just one style. I've gone with what I love, whether that's a flirty girlie dress one day or rocker chic the next, with a ripped-up jeans and a leather jacket. I also love to go against the grain and what society tells me what plus-size women should wear. I wear exactly what they tell me I shouldn't because I like it and it looks good on me, and I feel good in it.
PS: Do you have a go-to piece for when you need a pick-me-up?
HM: I'm obsessed with the Spanx faux-leather leggings. They are tight, tight, tight to the body, and they show off all of my curves. Those are my go-to for sure, for everything. That was what I wore on my first date to my now-husband. They're just a good staple pair of leggings.
PS: Is there a fashion trend right now that you're really into?
HM: Neons! All the neons that are going on right now, I'm super into. Lots of tie-dye, kind of an homage to the '80s, in a way. It also kind of brings me back to my childhood a little bit. I'm super excited about it.
PS: What changes do you feel the fashion world has made over the years that you're excited about?
HM: Inclusivity. I think that we are slowly but surely getting there. I think a lot of time people say, "Is it enough? Do you think you've seen enough?," and I'm like, "No, not until I get to walk down 5th Avenue or in SoHo and I feel like I can see myself in every store." I still can't go shopping in SoHo in Manhattan. There are no stores that carry my size, and that alone speaks volumes. I think we have a long way to go there. But it is nice to be able to see people on the covers of magazines or starring in their own shows. For instance, I just did a cameo in Shrill with Aidy Bryant, and her having her own show, I'm like, "Heck yes!" This is what it's about. This is what I want to see, and that's what I vied for, and what I wanted when I was younger. And I hope that the next generation can take hold of that and continue those conversations.
PS: You recently got married and have been very vocal about how you don't buy into the societal pressure to lose a lot of weight for your wedding. Where do you think this pressure originally comes from?
HM: Society. When you think about it, it's a multibillion-dollar business. Everything that goes into a wedding costs tons of money, and why not add a diet pill on top of it? I personally felt like my fiancé asked me to marry him as I was, at my size, and he loved me the way I was. Why would I show up on my wedding day looking completely different? I'm of course an advocate for being your best self and being healthy. I think that's more important than anything. But I think that so many people take it to this extreme, and then they don't enjoy the planning process. It becomes really stressful. I have best girlfriends who have done the same exact thing, and then on the wedding day, it's all about the weight, and "did I make my goal weight?," and it's no longer about that commitment. And I think it's important to focus on what it's really, truly about.
PS: What was your favorite and least favorite part about wedding planning?
HM: My favorite part was picking all the vendors. I had a Pinterest for so many years, basically piling up with what I wanted, so it was almost like pulling that trigger and saying, "OK, let's go, let's do it." I knew exactly what I wanted, whether my fiancé liked it or not [laughs]. I was like, "Listen, this is what my dream is," and he was like, "I'm just showing up. You do you, and we'll get married." My least favorite part was probably figuring out the guest list — who's invited and who's not. My mom always joked with me you either invite 100 or you invite 1,000, so be picky. And we had a little over 100, and it was just wonderful to have everybody I loved under one roof.
PS: What's one piece of advice you'd give to women who are just starting to plan their own weddings?
HM: My biggest piece of advice would be to have fun with it and know that regardless of what happens, it's gonna be a great day because you're marrying the love of your life. Just stay focused on that. I think that for me it was, whether I had flowers and a live band, or music or whatever, I was still like, "I don't care if I get married to you in a bathroom off a highway, or if we get married here. I want to get married to you. That is why I'm here." So really focusing on that, and enjoy the process. Everything else should be a cherry on top.
PS: It seems like a lot of brides agonize over certain details and then never even notice them on the day of their wedding.
HM: Let me tell you, my husband and I were like, "OK, we didn't try any of the hors d'oeuvres we picked out and went for a tasting for, and we didn't even try our signature drinks." Really, it's a party for everybody else. So again, focus on your commitment to each other, because the other little things are just extras.