Once she got the call that she was a finalist, Robinson flew to Punta Cana for a photoshoot as part of Sports Illustrated‘s 2022 Swimsuit issue—something she wrote was a major “pinch me moment,” on Instagram.
“Winning Swim Search would show the world representation for the chronically ill community in an unprecedented way,” she told the brand. “Mental health and body image have been issues at the forefront over the past few years, but what we don’t always pay attention to is other invisible illnesses.”
Robinson was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome at the age of 11, a condition that makes her highly prone to injury and leaves her skin, joints, and tissues in pain. Her and her family first found out about the diagnosis when she broke her elbow after doing a cartwheel. Her elbow, along with fracturing her ankle and tearing a few ligaments a few months later, took much longer to heal—something that alerted her doctors that she may have Ehlers-Danlos.
Now that her debut on Sports Illustrated is out, Robinson has one message: “You can feel like shit and still look super sexy.”
“My debut is symbolic of my journey as an advocate for so many things including mental health, body image, invisible illness all while being a student and entrepreneur,” she wrote on Instagram, moments after her debut went live. “I am so elated to be alongside all of the other fabulous swim search finalists, congrats to us.”
You can see Gigi Robinson’s full photoshoot inside the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue on newsstands May 19.