Sports Illustrated Swim Search finalist and astrophysicist Sarafina Nance had a message for web trolls after posing for the journal’s 2022 Swimsuit Issue in a yellow halter-neck bikini. On Monday, the Egyptian-American analog astronaut responded to a critic who known as her modeling for the journal demeaning.
“Fantastic for being an astrophysicist, but a swimsuit model?!!” the commenter wrote. “This is the problem that Marilyn Monroe faced that her audience only valued her for her body, not her brains… Imagine Madam Curie being a Playboy [centerfold]? Sorry, but it demean [sic] a woman with intelligence.”
Nance had no time for that argument, insisting that women shouldn’t be limited; she can model swimwear and study science.
“Your brand of ‘feminism’ isn’t real feminism if you’re dictating what a woman can do, look like and dream,” Nance shot back. “Women aren’t objects. We don’t exist for conception. The point is that we can be everything — and anything — we want. Period.”
Nance also shared the interaction on her Instagram Story, where she noted that “this kind of comment is exactly why a photo shoot like this is important.”
“Toppling misogynists one swimsuit at a time!!!” she added.
Nance is a 2022 finalist for the Sports IlIllustrated Swim Search, an annual casting call for aspiring and professional models to be featured in the publication. Other finalists include influential women such as Ashley Callingbull, the first Indigenous First Nations woman to be featured in the publication, and Gigi Robinson, the first Gen Z and chronically ill woman in the magazine.
Last week Nance, who last year participated in HI-SEAS, a Mars simulation run by the International MoonBase Alliance (IMA), told her followers that she applied for the Swim Search to “share my journey as a lady in STEM and present girls breaking boundaries and defying stereotypes.”
She also noted that her shoot took place two years after she underwent a preventative double mastectomy after genetic testing revealed she was positive for the BRCA 2 genetic mutation, with an 87% lifetime risk of breast cancer. She was just 26 at the time.
Nance has been documenting her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit journey on TikTok.
“I wanted to show that women can pursue our dreams, defy stereotypes and be anything we want to be, no matter what,” she told Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.
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