SI Swimsuit model Kelly Hughes claps back at online trolls after becoming first woman to show off her C-section scar in the magazine, saying ‘there’s no need’ for negative comments
- Hughes, 42, showed off her C-section scar while posing in a string bikini for the body-positive spread featured in the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue
- The model told Fox News that it was ‘healing’ to flaunt the scar above her pelvic bone in the iconic magazine, saying it was her ‘biggest insecurity’
- Hughes said the response was mostly positive, though she did get some ‘generic’ negative comments on Instagram after an image from the shoot went viral
- The mother of one shrugged off the criticism, saying ‘there will always be people out there who want to dim your light’
- She added that ‘there’s no need’ for someone to leave negative comments on another person’s Instagram page
- Hughes, who had a difficult C-section recovery after giving birth in 2018, shared that she now looks at her scar and is ‘proud of what [she] went through’
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Kelly Hughes has opened up about how she handled negative comments after becoming the first woman to show her C-section scar in the iconic magazine, saying it was ‘healing’ to flaunt her ‘biggest insecurity.’
The 42-year-old mom revealed the scar above her pelvic bone while posing in a string bikini for the body-positive 2022 SI Swimsuit spread, which was made in collaboration with the pregnancy and postpartum brand Frida Mom.
‘I had a million things running through my mind before I even started shooting. I had never shown my scar before. And I have been really open with how I struggled with insecurities around my scar,’ she told Fox News in a new interview.
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Kelly Hughes opened up about becoming the first woman to show her C-section scar in the iconic magazine
The model told Fox News that it was ‘healing’ to flaunt the scar above her pelvic bone in the iconic magazine, saying it was her ‘biggest insecurity’
Hughes explained that didn’t want to have a C-section because ‘the bounce back was going to be much harder’ for her as a model.
‘Society just puts so much pressure on you to “bounce back,”‘ she said. ‘I wasn’t a size two anymore. I wasn’t doing too much modeling in a bikini in the first place. So it was scary at first to show my biggest insecurity in a magazine like Sports Illustrated. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be received.’
Hughes recalled how she was made to ‘feel so confident and beautiful’ by MJ Day during the shoot, saying the editor ‘turned my insecurity into the most beautiful thing in the world.’
‘The experience was a healing one for me,’ she added. ‘It just really helped me to overcome my insecurities.’
The mother of one insisted that she had no idea the impact the resulting photo would have on people — or that it would go viral all over the world.
Hughes recalled how editor MJ Day (pictured) made her ‘feel so confident and beautiful’ during the shoot, saying she ‘turned my insecurity into the most beautiful thing in the world’
The mother of one said the response was mostly positive, though she did get some ‘generic’ negative comments on Instagram after an image from the shoot went viral
‘I was shocked that about 99 percent of people that reached out to me have been supportive,’ she said, though she did come across some negative comments on Instagram.
‘Of course, you still get comments like, “Who cares?” or “She’s half-naked” or “We don’t want to see this” — all those comments are generic. And the truth is, there will always be people out there who want to dim your light,’ she noted.
‘All I can say is I don’t understand how someone can make negative comments, especially on someone’s social media posts. There’s no need for it,’ she added. ‘You don’t gain anything from that.
‘But the overwhelming amount of positive comments from people proves that something like this was needed. This is about representation. Think about those mothers out there with C-section scars wearing a bikini at the beach.’
Hughes said she received ‘so many messages’ from other moms who have struggled with insecurity because of their C-section scars and hid them in high-waisted bikinis and one-pieces at the beach.
Hughes shrugged off the criticism, saying ‘there will always be people out there who want to dim your light’
She added that ‘there’s no need’ for someone to leave negative comments on another person’s Instagram page
‘Now, I’m getting messages from women telling me how empowered they feel, and how confident they feel to wear that bikini again after having a baby,’ she explained. I hope that when people see my photo, they’ll feel encouraged to embrace themselves and give themselves grace.
‘I look at my scar now, and I’m proud of what I went through. I embrace it. I’m still here. And that’s exactly what my photo shows. I just hope it can encourage others to feel the same.’
The stunning picture shows the mom modeling a cream knit string bikini while kneeling in the surf. She is looking up at the sky and smiling as she pulls down her bikini bottoms to expose her C-section scar.
Hughes, who has a three-year-old son, explained in the caption of her post that she had a difficult C-section recovery and used to be self-conscious about her scar.
In May, Hughes talked about the shoot on her Instagram Stories, saying she ‘held a lot of pain’ and ‘a lot of insecurities’ with her scar until she learned to embrace it
‘I am speechless and so honored to be in @si_swimsuit 2022 as the FIRST woman to expose her C-section scar in [the] magazine’s history!’ she wrote.
‘This partnership with @fridamom #paywithchange partnership to normalize and embrace the changes with a woman’s body, especially when becoming a mom is so amazing to be a part of.
‘I struggled with insecurities from my scar being that I’m a model and my incredibly difficult recovery but it wasn’t until I “embraced my scar that I experienced the true power in it.”‘
Hughes also opened up about how much the shoot personally meant to her on her Instagram Stories, saying she ‘held a lot of pain’ and ‘a lot of insecurities’ with her scar.
‘We all age, we all have insecurities, we all have things in life that we would maybe just change, but when it comes to birthing, that scar means so, so much to me because it’s my son,’ she said. ‘It’s everything that means everything to me.’
SI Swim collaborated with pregnancy and postpartum brand Frida Mom for the empowering beachside shoot as part of its new Pay with Change initiative
Hughes (pictured nine months pregnant) studied hypnobirthing and planned on a vaginal birth, but after 38 hours of labor, she needed to have a C-section
Hughes welcomed her son at Baptist Health South Miami Hospital in Florida in December 2018 via C-section, something she was firmly against at the time.
‘Motherhood has already proven to be the most beautiful selfless act of love possible,’ she wrote in an Instagram post that month. ‘I wanted to share my birth story because we all have a plan and no matter what it is when it comes to birthing nothing really matters in the end except a healthy baby and a healthy mommy.’
Hughes explained that she studied hypnobirthing and planned on a vaginal birth, but after 38 hours in labor, she still wasn’t dilating past 7 cm. Her doctor decided to do a C-section to keep the baby safe.
‘To me a C-section was the worst thing you could tell me,’ she said. ‘I had a healthy pregnancy, studied this amazing plan, gone to classes, recommended this plan to many friends and believed in it.
‘I had a vision of how birthing was going to be and I was so excited to experience it. I was willing to cave on some things but a C-section was not one I even thought of being a possibility,’ she continued. ‘Nevertheless my baby was born absolutely perfect so I forgot all about it.’
Hughes developed an infection in her uterus and needed to have a second surgery. She spent over a week in the hospital after she welcomed her son
Less than a year later, she shared photos of her body before and after birth, saying her weight has gone from 118 pounds (left) to 145 pounds (right)
‘When it comes to birthing, that scar means so, so much to me because it’s my son,’ Hughes said. ‘It’s everything that means everything to me’
However, the day after she returned home, she experienced ‘excruciating pains’ and was vomiting for two days before she returned to the hospital. After more than a week in the hospital, doctors discovered she had a serious infection in her uterus from the surgery, and she needed another surgery for them to fix it.
‘All of this pain doesn’t compare to the pain of missing out on these special first days with my boy, not being able to comfort him, bond with him, and breastfeed him,’ she noted, saying the only thing that kept her going was her hospital visits with her son.
Hughes said the experience made her ‘cherish every moment’ with her son, and she was grateful that he was healthy and would be home soon.
‘No matter what happens or what you have envisioned there’s always so much to be thankful for and nothing wrong with whatever type of labor you have,’ she concluded. ‘We have to be willing and open because labor is out of our control our bodies are all different and have nothing to prove or feel shame for.’
Less than a year later, she shared photos of her body before and after birth, saying her weight has gone from 118 pounds to 145 pounds.
‘Loving the curves and thankful for no stretch marks and for good skin elasticity and tightness because pregnancy does wonders,’ she wrote, ‘but I’m taking on the challenge to lean [through] the shape my body naturally is now and tone.
Hughes spread in the upcoming issue of SI Swim is meant to show the beauty of all paths to motherhood, especially C-section births
‘I look at my scar now, and I’m proud of what I went through. I embrace it. I’m still here,’ Hughes told Fox News
‘To embrace your beauty in all seasons is the key!!!! I love who I am now it took me a while to get here but I’m now ready to challenge myself.’
In the United States, about 1 in 3 babies is delivered by cesarean birth, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Although the procedure accounts for roughly one-third of American births, they are stigmatized as being ‘unnatural’ or the ‘easy way out,’ leaving many C-section moms to feel like they failed in some way.
Hughes spread in the latest issue of SI Swim is meant to show the beauty of all paths to motherhood, especially C-section births, while normalizing the conversation around postpartum recovery and bodies.
SI Swim teamed up with Frida Mom as part of its Pay with Change initiative that was launched earlier this year.
The publication has vowed to only feature ads from brands that show a commitment to supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment, starting with this issue, which hit newsstands on May 19.