Kristen Louelle Gaffney is determined to make her mark.
The SI Swim Search finalist walked the runway over the weekend for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s fashion show, which highlighted women of diverse shapes, sizes, ages and ranges.
Gaffney joined Natalie Mariduena, Brooks Nader, Katrina Scott, Kathy Jacobs, as well as 12 other Swim Search hopefuls selected for the magazine’s annual open casting call at the Mondrian Hotel South Beach’s Baia Beach Club during PARAISO Miami Beach.
Kristen Louelle Gaffney walks the runway during the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show during Paraiso Miami Beach at Mondrian South Beach on July 10, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)
“Sports Illustrated Swimsuit continues to redefine the cultural conversation around beauty by celebrating a diverse group of women who include professional athletes, entrepreneurs, models, mothers, rookies and swim search contestants,” read a statement sent to Fox News on Sunday.
“It’s annual Miami runway show which collectively rounds out this remarkable group of authentic and aspirational women has become the go-to show during swim week in Miami,” the statement added.
A beaming Gaffney celebrated her curves while rocking a snakeskin print string bikini, followed by a sheer mesh high-cut one-piece featuring neon cut-outs.
The mother of two took to Instagram where she shared an emotional post about her experience.
Kristen Louelle Gaffney is one of 13 finalists from SI Swim Search who walked in this year’s fashion show. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
“To the younger version of me who wrapped the beach towel around herself at parties because she was insecure about her body… Look at you now, sis,” she wrote.
“At my age, my body type, as an unsigned model, with 2 children, this magical moment would have never happened without @si_swimsuit,” Gaffney shared. “I can’t put into words how grateful I am to the entire @si_swimsuit team for making my dreams come true last night. @mj_day & team you didn’t just make my dreams come, you gave me the platform to represent the every day woman, the moms, & the dreamers.”
“I hope I made you all proud,” Gaffney continued. “I’ve never been more honored to represent YOU. Thank you SI x @si_swimsearch for continuing to break boundaries & showing the world that we don’t fit into one box. That there are a million boxes & we can choose whatever damn box & however many boxes we want to be in. Because of you, girls will look at these pictures & say ‘I see me.’”
The California native is married to Tyler Gaffney, a running back for the New England Patriots. In June, Gaffney told Fox News she tried out for SI Swimsuit a whopping three times.
For the SI Swim Search, each contestant had to submit a 60-second video of themselves explaining why they would be a great addition to the 2021 issue, which is scheduled to be unveiled later this month. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)
“It’s incredibly empowering,” she said at the time about finally landing a spot. “I feel like I have unlocked this superpower, as crazy as it sounds, to help make women feel as comfortable as possible with themselves. I want other women to say, ‘She’s a mom and she did it. I can do it too.’ I want to use my platform to connect with other women, inspire them to go after their dreams, whether it’s Sports Illustrated or motherhood, work – whatever it is. I’m just so grateful that I can do that.”