Christen Harper and Jared Goff have found love in a not so hopeless place.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model and the Detroit Lions quarterback met on Raya, a favorite celebrity dating app. The couple were first linked in 2019. They announced their engagement in June 2022.
“…I swore he messaged me first,” Harper told Fox News Digital. “But when we went to look back, I actually sent the first message.”
“So all of you ladies better send the first message because you never know,” she chuckled. “You have to take your shot. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Harper said she and the NFL star quickly became inseparable after meeting offline.
“It’s so funny to think we met on a dating app, but I feel like these days it’s so mainstream,” the pin-up said. “And it’s really like how you meet people. Who knows if I would have ever met him? So I’m so glad I used this dating app five years ago… It’s so much fun to see how we’ve grown. It’s been such a fun ride – and it all started online.”
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While Harper quickly scored a touchdown with her beau, the star admitted she didn’t know football so well while they were dating.
“We started dating just before the football season started in 2018, I think,” she explained. “So it was crazy to be thrown in there. And I didn’t know much about football. My brother played hockey growing up. I knew about the Super Bowl, but I didn’t watch football on TV. all the time. So now I feel like I know too much.”
Harper noted that as a supporting partner, it was important for her to learn the ins and outs of the sport.
“It was an interesting dynamic just to see how much work they put in and see how busy they really are,” she said. “I mean, these guys work so hard and seeing the other side of the coin is amazing. It took some balancing between our two schedules to make it work. And I think in the beginning it was good because we were both busy. And now we really have to find ways to give and take. And usually the off season is more when I get to [focus on my projects]. And during the season, he concentrates on his business, so it works pretty well. But we find a way to make it work.”
Goff has been Harper’s biggest cheerleader of late. The Southern California native was a 2021 Swim Search co-winner. She was named Co-Rookie of the Year with Katie Austin after they appeared in the 2022 issue. She is featured in the current issue on the newsstands now.
Harper said it was Goff who encouraged her to attempt the magazine’s annual casting call.
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“He’s been the best cheerleader the whole way through,” she said. “It’s so much fun because I can cheer him on for his football season. But he’s the number one supporter, the number one person who’s just on my side. When I first went to apply for Swim Search , he was one of the people [who] was like, ‘Do it. Who cares if you don’t get it? Put yourself there. You have to do it.’ And I’m so glad he pushed me to do it. It’s just such a fun process. And it’s fun to have something so exciting that also involves the sports world. He can celebrate and be a part of it too.”
Harper said it was SI Swimsuit cover girl Kate Upton who inspired her to throw her hat in the ring. Growing up, Harper struggled with her body image.
“I grew up in California. I never went to a pool party or the beach with my friends because I was so insecure about my body for no reason,” she explained. “When I look back, I wish I’d put on the bikini, put on the one-piece, put on whatever, and go and show myself instead of waiting for it to get dark or keeping my blanket on. is your life. You only have one life. No one else is watching what you look like in a bikini. I promise you, you just have to go. You have to wear it. You have to be confident and just you. having fun because no one else is thinking about it.”
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“Life is too short not to wear a bikini,” she added.
Harper initially pursued modeling to help pay for college. However, agents and clients often told her to lose weight. Today, she speaks out on body positivity and leads self-esteem workshops at the Detroit Lions Academy in partnership with the Pure Heart Foundation.
“…I realized…I can show up on set and be exactly who I am,” she said, not matching fashion swatch sizes. “What if I don’t fit in the jeans and they have to send me home?” It was a bit awkward, but it’ll be fine because I know who I am… It’s brands like Sports Illustrated that have paved the way for women to feel good about themselves, regardless of shape and size, never mind. We are all here to represent everyone and to make everyone feel included and confident.
To prepare for her Dominica shoot this year, Harper said she doesn’t feel the urge to step up her fitness routine. She said the magazine encourages its models to show up for their photo shoots exactly as they are.
The original swimsuit issue was released in 1964. It was a launching pad for models such as Upton, as well as Kathy Ireland, Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson and Ashley Graham.
Over the years, the issue has featured models in painted bikinis, plus-size models, never-before-seen photos, tiny swimsuits, amputee models, older models, and the addition of professional athletes and celebrities. in a relationship with.
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“I made it a point not to do anything different for the shoot,” she explained. “Growing up, I saw these women, and they were so gorgeous and amazing, but I felt like I didn’t look exactly like the women I saw in the media. And so, I want to show myself as I introduce myself to the real world. I don’t want to come across as a special version of myself that only shows up once a year. I lead an active lifestyle. I work out a lot. I love Pilates, j like to walk with friends and go on walks in the cafe, but I didn’t do anything very particular about it because I just wanted to show off myself.”
“I think it’s just a good message to get across, especially to young girls,” she continued. “…And it’s a full circle moment. I’m finally the girl I once looked up to. I’m here and I feel so confident…This is so much more than just a photo. That’s it. C is my story – my past and my future.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.