1st Sports Illustrated Model showing C-Section Scar


( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Kelly Hughes Models with her Cesarean Section Scar, While Balancing Motherhood, Modeling, and Business

ENSPIRE Contributor: Cailin Tennis

Model Kelly Hughes from Miami, FL, broke barriers in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue being the first model to highlight her cesarean section scar, which has never happened in the magazine’s 58-year history. Along with being one of this year’s most talked about swimsuit models, Kelly is also a single mother to her 4-year-old son and the founder and designer of the jewelry brand, HÜES. She has partnered with ESTAS Beauty to start the #ScarLoveChallenge on social media to spread empowerment and change the societal stigma around scars. The challenge encourages participants to reinterpret Kelly’s photo showing off their own scars using the hashtag.

Her embodiment of bravery, feminism, and community aligns with ENSPIRE Magazine’s mission of promoting positive media. Now, the model is continuing to embrace the outpouring of love she’s received from the mama community to showcase others and lift them up. Her success can be seen through her jewelry designs, which have been worn by JBalvin, Ricky Martin, Chayenne, Zion y Lennox, Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Young Thug, and many more. In addition, her #ScarLoveChallenge is giving back to the community because, with every photo posted with the hashtag, ESTAS will donate $1 to World of Children, helping disadvantaged children around the globe.

It was easy to see Kelly’s altruistic nature, as well as her strong values when talking with her in a recent interview. She kicked off the conversation by describing her entry into the fashion world. She began modeling when she was around 17 years old and did not know about the fashion industry at all. Quickly, she learned that there was a very narrow definition of beauty that plagued the industry with insecurity and self-judgment. Soon, everything shifted once she became pregnant with her son, and underwent an unplanned C-section and subsequent infection. The healing time was much longer, body recovery was tougher, and the scars from this life-changing moment would stay with Kelly for the rest of her life.

Though she endured some difficult times, she reiterated she would never have made it this far without having persevered through those trying moments. She entered back into the fashion industry as a mother with a recovering body and scars. With grace and determination, she was a “founding mother” in the fashion evolution industry. We saw this evolution as companies sought more diverse models, and began understanding the power of relatability in their chosen models. Kelly continued modeling, although she found her greatest pride in raising her healthy 4-year-old son.

With her story of difficulties, ‌her strongest attributes weren’t just her physical beauty–it was her mental fortitude. She recalls feeling a great deal of pressure to have a body that bounces back after pregnancy, to be perfect, and to continue advancing her career. Her advice to get through these mentally challenging moments is to remember, “if you’ve lived through it once, you can do it again. Sometimes your struggles can be your greatest strengths.” 

Her feature in Sports Illustrated and other publications opened up an immense space for people needing support. Kelly says, “I connected with people who had C-sections, then I connected with struggling mothers, then that extended even further to people who had all types of scars.” This is the most important part of Kelly’s journey, seeing as she began inspiring and supporting so many people of different identities, and allowed them to feel understood, and even feel beautiful.

She stands to be one of the most influential role models to young people, and particularly young women. Judgment and self doubt run abundant in youth populations, but Kelly’s example aims to counter these negative thoughts with positive ones. This theme is seen in her self-started jewelry company HÜES. The company was born out of the idea that everyone should be able to exist in their own “hue,” and embrace their unique journey in life. Her designs are unisex and timeless, born out of her experience in the fashion industry and keen eye for style.

All things considered, Kelly’s career has been unbelievably successful and influential for so many people. It’s amazing that she has used her power as a mother to inspire positivity and enact change. ENSPIRE is excited to follow Kelly through her future endeavors, which will undoubtedly be amazing. Follow Kelly on her Instagram and visit her website for more information on her journey and future updates. HUES Website here.

Photos by: Lauren Rodriguez @lauren.Alexisphoto

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