As expected, Kate Upton has been unveiled as this year's cover girl for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue 2012 - cementing her status as one of the world's most famous models. It's been a remarkable rise to fame for the 19-year-old, who was essentially unheard of just a couple of years ago.
Upton taking pride of place on the cover of Sports Illustrated has divided opinion in some quarters, fuelling the debate about the model. According to the Washington Post, Upton is loved by both men and women because she has a "real body" and shows off considerable curves. One user on fashion website The Gloss wrote of the star, "I hope she represents a new/retro standard in modeling. She's hot. She's a cheese steak sandwich compared to the desiccated beef jerky we're being force fed". Another factor in Upton's favor is that she's essentially a self-made star, publicizing herself on YouTube and tweeting regularly to her 180,000 followers (that number is swelling by the minute following her Sports Illustrated spread). According to the New York Times, one of the contributing factors to Upton being signed to modelling agency Img was a YouTube of her dancing to California Swag District's 'The Dougie' while watching the Los Angeles clippers. Filmed by one of her friends, Upton is seen dancing while bursting into fits of laughter. The YouTube video went viral and has since been watched by over one-million users.
So why are some Americans reluctant to buy into the Upton brand? Well, because of her curves she is not high-fashion. Victoria's Secret casting direction Sophia Neophitou told the New York Times, "She's like a Page 3 girl.She's like a footballer's wife, with the too-blond hair and that kind of face that anyone with enough money can go out and buy". She is also beginning to appear in the tabloids, thanks to alleged romances with New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and rapper Kanye West amongst others.