"I'm really excited to know that Sports Illustrated is wanting to include women like us," the size 14-16 model, 28, told ET. "There is no perfect body, and we shouldn't be striving for perfection anymore."
Kwao, 26, agreed, saying, "It's incredibly empowering. It's like a new era now seeing different races, different shapes, different sizes being celebrated as beautiful."
Plus, 2016 marks Irina Shayk's 10th Swimsuit appearance, a feat that has only been matched by three models in 52 years. That decade-long tenure included a stint as cover girl in 2011, a first for a Russian model.
"I can't believe it. Just like the thought of it -- that I've been in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for 10 consecutive years -- is a dream," Shayk told ET. "They discovered me back in 2007, and here we go -- 10 years later, and I'm still here, and I'm not going anywhere."
Shayk shot her latest SI photo spread in Tahiti, and she joked that she risked her life for this year's issue due to all of the underwater predators. "It was kind of dangerous because a shark could literally bite my booty and the swimsuit off," she admitted.
While you wait for the issue to officially hit stands on Monday, take a look back at last year's cover girl, Hannah Davis, in the video below.