Why 'Sports Illustrated' Model Yumi Nu Likes to Buy Her Swimsuits "Two Sizes Too Small"

It's actually kind of genius.

<p>Amanda Pratt/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED</p>


Yumi Nu just pulled a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit hat trick: She first appeared in the magazine in 2021, then in 2022, became the first plus-size model of Asian descent to grace the cover. And now, she's appearing on the magazine's pages again for the third year in a row. For this year's shoot — in the issue on stands May 18 — Nu and the SI crew traveled to Domenica for sunset views, dreamy landscapes, and, of course, some killer swimwear.

Ahead of the big reveal, Nu sat down with InStyle to discuss how she preps for the (now annual) shoots, the swimwear she can't get enough of, and the music that both calms her down and keeps her hype on set.

Related:Martha Stewart Wore a Plunging One-Piece on the Cover of 'Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit at 81

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

InStyle: How does it feel to be doing SI Swim for the third time?

Yumi Nu: I think every time I get invited back into the issue, it's just such an honor. And at this point, the team is my favorite team to work with. They're like my family. And so it's just warm, fuzzy feelings all around.

Do you get nervous about shooting? Or is it just another day at the office?

I get a little bit nervous, but it's always the day of and right before we start shooting. And then, as soon as we start shooting, the nerves go away. But it's just "day of" jitters.

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So, walk me through your shoot day. What did you do first?

I woke up, and I put on a face mask. I think the call time was at four or 5:30 AM. It was super crazy early, so I only had time to do a face mask and just brushed my hair out. And then I went down to the hair and makeup. It was dark outside, and I got my hair and makeup done and had some breakfast with the hair and makeup team. And then, we had an hour drive to our first location.

We were in a few different pockets of Dominica, and it was really cool to see it through the lens of the locals there that were helping us. And we were shooting on some more beachy areas and some more rocky areas…It was my first time there, so I was just really appreciative to be able to see everything and to get such a variety of the island in just one day because I was only there for two travel days and then one full day.

You've spoken about changing the perception of beauty. Do you feel that things are shifting?

Yeah, definitely. And I think that with fashion and the entertainment industry, there's a lot of people that jump on the bandwagon that don't actually care, and they kind of fizzle out. But whenever people ask me who my favorite client to work for is, I always say Sports Illustrated because I know that they genuinely care. I know [editor] MJ [Day] really cares. She's so intentional about every single person she puts in the issue and makes sure that all types of people and bodies are represented.

So, I think that Sports Illustrated, especially, is a spearhead in the change that's happening. Because for such a legendary magazine to lead this kind of thing, there will be people that follow. So I think if enough people in power take a stand, then that's how change happens. And I definitely think we're starting to see that more and more every year.

Shifting gears a little bit, you know a lot about swimsuits. What are some of your favorite swimsuit brands or styles right now? 

Monday Swimwear always has really classic styles. I'm trying to build a timeless wardrobe so that I don't hate my whole closet and have to buy a bunch of new stuff every season.

There's this brand called Youswim that I always recommend because it's one-size-fits-all. I always bring one of their one-pieces with me on vacation because I could make it sexy if I'm out with friends, and then I can make it more family-friendly.

I've also been wearing some Frankies Bikinis. I think that their stuff is super cute. I’ve definitely been a big fan of tiny little bikinis. I actually think that shooting with Sports Illustrated put me on a tiny bikini kick because I feel like I just feel hotter than in a more full, classic full-coverage swimsuit, I guess. Just buy one that's two sizes too small, and then you're good to go.

Since you’re a musician, what music was playing before the shoot to get you in that spirit?

Every year it changes for me depending on what is going on in my life. While I'm on set, I like something a little bit more upbeat, like house music or dance music. But before a shoot, I kind of like to sit in silence or listen to morning jazz, Chillhop, or coffee shop music, just because I get overstimulated sometimes, especially on shoot days when I have a million things going through my mind.

So I actually like to keep things really, really peaceful in the morning. Whereas, I feel like I would've expected myself to listen to some more Megan Thee Stallion or Doja Cat before a shoot to hype me up. But I actually think I get hyped up by being calm and grounded and feeling stable.

 The 2023 issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit will be on stands May 18.

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