The rejections didn’t stop her from pursuing dreams of being in front of the cameras.
“I had booked a job and I went with my mom to the job in downtown L.A. I was 16,” the 26-year-old McGrady told photographer Yu Tsai on IGTV. “I walked in and they were all staring at me and … the producer came over and she said, ‘We’re so sorry, we didn’t realize how big you were.’ They didn’t even give me a chance to try on any of the garments. They didn’t give me a chance to do anything. They just simply turned me away.”
McGrady said at the time she 114 pounds and 6 feet tall but was told from industry people she was “nowhere near thin enough” to be a professional model.
“I went through that feeling like I had to measure up to be accepted or I wasn’t worthy of love, I wasn’t worthy of success if I wasn’t thinner,” she admitted. “If this is what it takes to be a model, this isn’t for me. Like, I’m out, I’m done.”
The model said the experience (and many others) hurt her mental health and she had to take time off to deal with depression and anxiety. McGrady said her perspective shifted when plus-size model Ashley Graham was featured in SI Swimsuit Issue in 2015.
“It opened up possibilities,” McGrady explained. “Not me as a plus-size model, but me as a plus-size woman, we’re getting chances that we had never gotten before. We were getting these opportunities and I had not seen that really in the past.”
McGrady, who is a proud size 16, previously told Fox News that she practices affirmations about her body every day.
“My confidence comes from me, within. I had to truly teach myself to love myself. It took a long time and it’s a daily struggle for me. But I do it,” she said.
“I literally look in the mirror and I tell myself, ‘Hunter you are beautiful. You are confident. You are strong. Your stretch marks are beautiful, your cellulite is beautiful. You’re worthy. You’re worthy of putting on that swimsuit and strutting your stuff in front of everybody.’ It takes one person to do that so other people can follow suit,” McGrady added.
Fox News’ Stephanie Nolasco contributed to this report.