Golfer Paige Spiranac Defends Her Sexy Sports Illustrated Photos​

"I embrace who I am, and I embrace the fact that I feel empowered feeling sexy."

Golfer Paige Spiranac Defends Her Sexy <em>Sports Illustrated</em> Photos​

As a female athlete in a male-dominated sport, professional golfer Paige Spiranac is pretty used to nasty remarks both on and off the golf course. But when you combine that with a sexy spread in the newest issue of Sports Illustrated's 2018 Swimsuit Edition, you can only imagine the online abuse. It's 2018 and society still doesn't know what to do with a woman who both embraces her sexuality and has a killer swing.

Luckily, the Arizona beauty knows how to deal with haters, not least of all because she's active on Instagram, where she has 1.3 million followers. Spiranac has been vocal about dealing with bullying. Last week, she told SI about an experience two years ago that left her balling in her hotel room in Dubai. She was fresh out of college and playing her first pro tournament in The Dubai Ladies Masters​. Her excitement at this incredible opportunity soon turned to anxiety as she received a barrage of criticism from people saying she was "sexualizing women's golf" and that it was only her looks that got her into the tournament.

"Two years ago, [the negativity] definitely affected me. I became very depressed and I had a lot anxiety," Spiranac told Esquire. "I realized that I could save the world and I would still get hate. I'm never going to try and please other people. All I can do is live my truth and be a good person, and I will feel right and fulfilled."

Now, she's a vocal anti-bullying advocate, working to end cyber-bullying with The Cybersmile Foundation. In fact, she told Esquire that, while she loves golf, her true passion at the moment is fighting cyberbullying.

Her decision to participate in the spread is part of that campaign, as she hopes that her ability to smile through the barrage of criticism she's sure to get will inspire others to live their truth no matter what other people think.

"I can't wait for golf media to talk about it and the negative comments I'm going to get. I never want to let them dictate something I really wanted to do, so there was never a doubt in my mind that I was going to say yes," she said. "I embrace who I am, and I embrace the fact that I feel empowered feeling sexy."

"'I'm so honored and humbled to be included in #SISwim 2018!" she wrote on Instagram. "This issue is about self-love, empowering women, body positivity, and encouraging everyone to be kind. Women face so much pressure every. single. day. to look, act, and talk a certain way, and it is so difficult trying to figure out what you "can" and "should" be. It's taken a long time, but I'm proud of my body! I'm proud of who I am! I'm proud that I can be strong, smart, AND sexy! SI Swim embraces ALL women, no matter what, and just wants them to feel loved. You should feel loved and powerful and unapologetically YOU! And don't let ANYONE tell you that you're not perfect just the way you are." And for more totally baller ladies, don't miss the 15 Times Gal Gadot Melted Our Instagram Feeds.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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