Tongan beauty makes history as first Pacific woman in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Search Top 6

Beating over 10,000 women who submitted videos on Instagram and showed up for magazine Sports Illustrated’s first ever in-person casting call in Miami, Tongan American Veronica Pome’e is the first Polynesian woman to make the Top 6 in the magazine’s Swimsuit Model Search. LAUMATA LAUANO reports



The only Plus Size Model still in the competition, Veronica Pome’e is making strides for diversity and representation, although there’s more to Veronica than just a pretty face, rocking curves and can-do attitude.


As a community organiser and volunteer, Veronica was approached to walk for a designer during LA Fashion Week. She initially had no clue about what was involved, but Veronica took to swimsuit modelling like a fish to water.


At the beginning of 2019, Veronica made history by reaching the final 6 in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search, a first for the Pacific in the well-known magazine. .


"Being a part of the #SISwimSearch has helped me unify my community in different parts of the world, as well as influencing an entire generation of young girls to be strong in mind, body and spirit, while changing the way the world perceives how that strength should look,” says the 29-year-old California resident, who says she used to joke about being the first Polynesian to be in the magazine when she started taking modelling seriously.


Having made it through to the final 6, her jests could become a reality.


“The feeling is surreal and I can honestly say that I was very doubtful because of my insecurities with being the bigger girl (size U.S. 18) as well as having the scars on my body.”


Veronica says the opportunity lets her walk boldly in her truth and share her light that resonates with so many of our Pacific youth who feel like we don't fit in for many more reasons beyond size.




Everyone knows I’m not the smallest girl, I don’t have the biggest boobs, I wouldn’t mind having a bigger ass 😂 and I have scars and stretch marks all over my body. My flaws have become what strengthens me the most as a model. As an underdog it’s crucial for me to highlight inner beauty qualities because for so long I didn’t feel like I measured up to society’s expectations of beauty. In this day and age, young girls look up to us as sources of inspirations to feel more confident and empowered by being unapologetic and becoming more of their authentic selves. Making the final 6 for @si_swimsuit has allowed me to inspire the same girls who don’t feel like their skinny, pretty, curvy, or even skin tone worthy enough. The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. Thank you @mj_day and the entire team for believing in me when I say that this is only the beginning. #SayLess #ChallengeAccepted #Dare2Inspire #BishImInTheTop6 #WorseBehavior #DontSleep #Faithfulness 🙏🏽 #FirstPolynesian #MMT #SiSwimSearch 😝😤🤣🤣💪🏽💪🏽😍

A post shared by Veronica Pome’e (@veronicapomee) on



SI Swimsuit Editor MJ Day says one of the most difficult decisions of the year was choosing who moves on in the #SISwimSearch.


"Every single woman here is a superstar in the making. The personalities, the ambition and the untapped potential are so exciting to introduce to the world,” says MJ as reported by Sports Illustrated.


"Each woman is so incredibly unique and special while possessing the same identical quality," she continued. "They impressed the hell out of us. We’re so excited to continue this journey with these six women and watch them take it to the next level."


The swimsuit issue was traditionally published in February, but the 2019 issue will appear in May- closer to swimsuit season in the US. It has been a launching pad for models such as Kathy Ireland, Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, Kate Upton and Ashley Graham.


Read about Veronica’s inspiring journey, her fears, hopes and triumphs in the upcoming issue of SPASIFIK Magazine #SPK73 and get your copy of issue 72 which is out now.