Kelly Hughes was recognized as a 2022 SI Swimsuit model in the most unexpected place: her 4-year-old son’s school drop-off line. Hughes took the awkward but sweet moment like a champ and made a funny video about it. “In the drop-off line and the teacher says, ‘All of the teachers were looking at your pics in the Sports Illustrated magazine,’” she wrote on the video in which she waves goodbye, is recognized, puts on her sunglasses and sinks into the driver’s seat.
“True story 🤣 and they absolutely freaking loved it,” she captioned the post. “They were so sweet, especially that it’s supporting women and making a statement for the huge % of women that have had C-sections.”
“We are beautiful strong mommas,” she added. “The strongest community out there that i’m so thankful to be a part of 🙌🏼💕”
Hughes, 42, and her husband, Jared, are parents to son Harlem, who was born in 2018.
“Does he get extra credit?” she asked in her caption, jokingly.
Hughes was the first SI Swimsuit model to visibly highlight her cesarean section scar in her photo shoot. C-sections account for nearly a third (more than 1.2 million) of the births in the United States, yet there is still a stigma around the procedure and its resulting scars.
When she first learned of her pregnancy, Hughes had her birth plan set in mind. But complications arose and she had to mentally shift gears to having a C-section to ensure her baby’s safety. She has grown to love her scar and feels empowered by it.
“There’s an incredible shift happening today with inclusivity and normalizing the changes our bodies go through as women, so to be a part of this moment is so incredible and liberating,” she told SI Swimsuit. “The thing that I was most insecure about became the thing that empowered me the most.”
She hopes that by openly speaking about her C-section and sharing photos of her scar, women will start to embrace their imperfections.
“You created a life. We in a sense give birth to our new selves and there’s so much beauty in that,” she added. “It’s not the easiest recovery, but always put the health of your child first no matter what birthing method you choose or is required.”