Kate Upton is on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue for the second year in a row, making history as the first model to do so since Tyra Banks’ consecutive covers in 1996 and 1997. It’s a great feat, but getting the perfect cover shot wasn’t all fun and games.


20-year-old Upton, who wears nothing but a white bikini bottom and an unzipped white parka on the cover, had to brave extremely cold temperatures in Antarctica for her role as the cover girl. She’s from Florida and is used to soaking up the sunshine, so the cold temperatures were especially hard to get used to. Upton says, “When I came back, I was losing my hearing and eyesight. My body was shutting down because it was working so hard to keep me warm.”


Editors at the magazine said Upton can never be accused of being a “whiny model.” Day after day she braved temperatures as low as 24 degrees Fahrenheit and wind chills of -20 degrees Fahrenheit in a bikini while the rest of the crew was wearing floor-length coats. Senior editor M.J. Day even joked that a passageway in Antarctica should be named after the model.

The shoot was also tough logistically as it was the first fashion shoot to take place on the continent. Planning for it and figuring out scheduling and costs took about 3 years. Upton and the crew enjoyed the photo shoot nonetheless. It was “definitely the hardest shoot” she’s ever done, but “the best as well.” She calls Antarctica “one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to,” while Day states, “everything about the picture is perfect.”


As for her modeling career, Upton is content to star in sexy photo shoots rather than walk the runway during New York Fashion Week. She does love sit front row at fashion shows to see all the new styles, but, she says, “it was never in my interest to be in a fashion show.”


Because she recognizes that she isn’t the same as other models, she won’t “really focus on other girls, just because I think everyone has a different body type.” Upton also thinks modeling should be all about self-competition. “You have to work on yourself,” she believes. “I don’t go out and compete with other girls. I just try and make myself better.”