Professional golfer and social media star Paige Spiranac has gone mainstream.
The San Diego State product has risen to fame in the last few years as her social media accounts have garnered more and more attention from those both in and outside of the golf world. Now, she’ll be a part of one of the most-purchased print publications of the year: the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
This was such a hard secret to keep! But I’m so honored and humbled to be included in #SISwim 2018! This issue is about self-love, empowering women, body positivity, and encouraging everyone to be kind. Women face so much pressure every. single. day. to look, act, and talk a certain way, and it is so difficult trying to figure out what you “can” and “should” be. It’s taken a long time, but I’m proud of my body! I’m proud of who I am! I’m proud that I can be strong, smart, AND sexy! SI Swim embraces ALL women, no matter what, and just wants them to feel loved. You should feel loved and powerful and unapologetically YOU! And don’t let ANYONE tell you that you’re not perfect just the way you are. Thank you to @mj_day and the whole team for believing in me and letting me share my story. You’ve changed my outlook on life and let me know it’s okay to love my body❤️ #siswim
Spiranac, who continues to hone her game for a professional career, has also become a spokesperson for Cybersmile, a nonprofit devoted to ending cyberbullying.
Paige Spiranac still feels the pain from that night in Dubai. She was 22, fresh out of college and playing in The Dubai Ladies Masters, her first pro tournament. She was there on a sponsor’s exemption, meaning she was invited by the tournament’s organizers to bring awareness to the event. Though she had reservations about participating under those conditions, it was an opportunity too good to pass up. But she did not expect the criticism — both the amount received and the viciousness in which it was delivered. She hadn’t earned a legitimate spot in the tournament. Her presence was sexualizing women’s golf. What she hoped would be a positive first step in her career had become a nightmare. So there she was, the night before her first major tournament, bawled up on the floor of a hotel room, crying hysterically.
“It really affected me,” Paige says of the experience. “I was sitting in the bathroom just balling and was like ‘I don’t want to go through this pain, this feel of helplessness. Being alone. Scared. And I said I never wanted anyone to feel the way I felt in that moment. How scared I was. How helpless I felt in that I was bullied so bad to the point that I didn’t want to live anymore.’”
Paige Spiranac is now 24 and making her debut in the SI Swimsuit Issue. She’s hoping to use this platform and role as an influencer to bring awareness to the problem of cyberbullying. She works with Cybersmile, a nonprofit devoted to ending cyberbullying, and is a constant presence on Twitter, offering support and inspiration when she can.
“People of all walks of life are cyberbullied every single day and that’s not okay,” she said. “It’s time we start supporting the victims instead of telling them to delete social media or ignore the hate. It’s time we made a difference, so I’ve dedicated a significant portion of my time to helping others.”
As for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, that’s something she never thought possible.
“I’ve been a fan for such a long time and I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would get the opportunity to be a part of the SI Swimsuit family. I get chills every time I think about it. So yes, it’s still that hard to believe and I’m still in disbelief!”
And while she knows there will be the inevitable backlash to her photos, she’s no longer as concerned what others think of her.
“Even though being in the SI Swimsuit Issue has always been a dream of mine it would be a lie to say that I didn’t think about what the response might be,” she said. “I mean I wear leggings and people say that the way I’m dressed is inappropriate! But in the end, it’s not the opinions of other people that matter – it’s if you’re doing things that make you feel happy, fulfilled, and empowered. You can’t let negativity hold you back from living your life!”
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