EXCLUSIVE: When Olivia Brower entered a local pharmacy with her family, she had no idea that her sizzling snaps from this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit would be at newsstands.

But the model, along with her family, were ecstatic to see the sun-soaked images, which were shot on Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands. It’s Brower’s second time being part of the magazine after she made her grand debut just last year. The star is featured in the 2020 issue on sale now, which highlights Kate Bock, Olivia Culpo and Jasmine Sanders as the coveted cover girls.

Brower spoke to Fox News about what it was like seeing herself on the pages of SI, how she physically prepared for this year’s shoot, the one blonde bombshell she admires the most, as well as the one time she nearly gave up on her modeling career before the outlet came calling.

Fox News: How does it feel to be in SI Swimsuit for a second year in a row?
Olivia Brower: I’m just so honored and just filled with so much gratitude to be invited back. This year, we shot in the Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands, a really beautiful place and truly unique. So it was the perfect backdrop.

Olivia Brower is featured in the 2020 issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, which is on sale now.

Olivia Brower is featured in the 2020 issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, which is on sale now.
(Josie Clough/Sports Illustrated)

I remember I hopped straight from a plane to a bus and then on a boat to the island. We immediately got to work. After my fitting, hair and makeup, we hopped on another boat to a little island and started shooting. But this year was really special for me. To just be invited back is huge, an honor. … It almost doesn’t feel like work because you’re just surrounded by friends.

Fox News: What was your reaction when you saw those photos for the first time?
Brower: I was down in San Diego visiting family. We went to a local Rite Aid or CVS. And I saw it in the stands. I was with my family and it was just amazing because I got to experience that with them. … And to be in my hometown, it’s definitely a reflection of where I started and where I am now. It was really meaningful.

… I remember when I first booked SI, I just started crying, and then I called my mom. Because I really wasn’t expecting it at all. And then I had three weeks to get ready before I headed off to the Bahamas. It’s been a surreal experience, one that I am grateful for.

Fox News: What does it mean for you to be in the 2020 issue?
Brower: You know, I’ve wanted to be a part of the Sports Illustrated family for so many years now. Ever since I started modeling, I looked up to the women in the pages of the magazine and I just wanted to be a part of it. It’s so empowering to see women who represent such a vast majority of people.

And I hope that other women and young ladies that look at the pages can be inspired by these incredible women. Cause honestly they’re all spectacular and have an amazing story. I think Sports Illustrated does such a wonderful job at showing diversity … it’s empowering. … Boys grow up with action figures. I grew up with Sports Illustrated.

Fox News: Which SI model did you admire the most and why?
Brower: I’ve always loved Kate Upton. If I’m being honest, I feel like we’re both big booby ladies. And just seeing her on the cover not once, but multiple times made me develop a connection with her. I felt represented. … She definitely represents a lot of wonderful qualities that I look up to.

Fox News: How did you physically prepare for this year’s shoot?
Brower: I have a personal trainer who’s just the best and I work out with him every day. It’s not so much a goal to lose weight or anything, but just so I feel confident and strong. And then I just to do anything and everything that is healthy for me. I try to get facials, massages and really be conscious of what I’m putting in my body and drinking the right amount of water. So when I walk onto the beach, I’m feeling glowing and beautiful, not any specific size or anything like that. Just the best version of myself.

… But on my own, I love to go for runs. It really helps clear my head. I like to listen to music and I have such an eclectic collection that I listen to while I’m running. I think that’s my favorite thing to do. Also this year, I fell in love with doing Pilates. I found that it’s gentle, but then when I finish the workout, the next day, I’m sore in places that I didn’t think I could be sore. I recommend that one… Like, why does my finger suddenly feel so tense and hurt. [laughs] It’s a full-body workout.

Fox News: How important is it for a magazine like SI to show that beauty does not come in one size?
Brower: Oh I think it’s crucial. … It’s kind of a no-brainer. Like why we wouldn’t want to celebrate all women? I’m not a double zero but I’m also not a size 14. I’m kind of the girl in between where I’m a four to six. I’m curvy, but I still have my stretch marks and everything else that makes me a woman. The beauty of being a woman are those so-called imperfections. I’m hoping when girls are flipping through the magazine, they can see a body similar to theirs. There is no mold to being a woman. I think beauty is from within and embracing your unique qualities.

Fox News: Was there ever a point in modeling where you felt like giving up?
Brower: There definitely have been moments where I’ve been asked to leave a set because I was too curvy for what the client wanted. And in those moments, you start to have self-doubt and not appreciate yourself… When I first booked Sports Illustrated, I was like, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe this is the end for me.” But then you realized – I booked Sports Illustrated, the biggest job I’ve received in my career.

I have to say to any girl who has self-doubt: don’t give up on yourself. Know that you are worth it. Know there’s going to be a lot of people that say no and have criticism. But at the end of the day, know your self-worth. Know the people who surrounded you, who love you. Their opinions are what’s valid and matter, not some stranger who doesn’t know you in the fashion industry.

Fox News: What advice would you give to someone who wants to feel confident, but doesn’t know where to begin?
Brower: I think the biggest change for me was that I was always constantly carrying this heavy weight of self-judgment. And finally one day, I just got tired. I was in front of the mirror and I said, “If I just don’t compare myself to other people, then I’ll be really happy with what I see in the mirror.” Every day is a choice to be confident and love yourself. Don’t get me wrong, some days I’m like “God, I can’t even look at myself.”

L-R: Olivia Brower, Haley Kalil and Brooks Nader of SI Swimsuit fame.

L-R: Olivia Brower, Haley Kalil and Brooks Nader of SI Swimsuit fame.
(Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

But don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun and enjoy life. Everything else will work itself out. I feel like, especially now, it’s good to have a sense of humor about yourself and have a more positive outlook. … Just know that everybody has stretch marks, everybody’s got cellulite. But those so-called imperfections are what make beautiful and unique. Embrace who you are. And once you do, it just feels wonderful.

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