In February, 56-year-old model Nicola Griffin made a splash as the oldest woman to ever appear in Sports Illustrated’s famed Swimsuit Issue (albeit in an ad for Swimsuitsforall, not in the issue’s editorial pages). We were hoping we’d see more of Griffin and her self-proclaimed “quite sexy, rounded tummy” — and we didn’t have to wait too long. Griffin is starring in a lingerie shoot for SLiNK, a British curve magazine.
Yes, we saw mature models in major ad campaigns in 2015, like Joan Didion for Céline, Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent, and Cher for Marc Jacobs. And some labels, like Rachel Comey in New York and Undercover in Paris, have included older models in recent show castings. But an older model not just appearing in fashion content (whether IRL or in the pages of glossies), but doing so in a bathing suit or lingerie, is far from what we're accustomed to seeing.
“It’s crazy to think that fashion models, aside from generally all being one size, are all in one age bracket, too,” Rivkie Baum, editor-in-chief of SliNK, told Refinery29. “There seems to be a consensus, especially in media, that women start to become invisible not just above a size 10, but above age 50, too," Baum says. "Nicky is defying all those odds, and her passion to represent made her a perfect choice for this issue.”
Griffin shared her ambitious (and awesome) plans for industry domination with SLiNK. When asked about whether she wants to be become the first over-50-year-old supermodel, she told the publication: “Yes, I do. Why not? I just think in your 50s, you get ignored; in your 60s, you get ignored. Let’s celebrate every woman’s age,” Griffin said. “So, yes, I’m hopeful I can take this all the way.”
While Griffin’s brief, yet pretty intense, moment in the spotlight has been primarily focused on her age, she’s a size 16 — and she’s noted just how far body diversity has come in fashion (though there are still plenty of advances to be made, of course).
“Years ago, if you had a curvy body, you’d cover it up, be on a diet, and not talk about it. Now, you can just be who you are, and that’s amazing,” Griffin told Refinery29 when her Sports Illustrated images debuted. “It is amazing for my two daughters to see that women don’t have be on a diet or be slim to have a beautiful curvy body. It’s a really important message.”
Ironically, the fact that Griffin is getting ample attention for being beyond the status quo in terms of both age and size is proof of how narrow-minded the fashion industry (and perhaps, society at large) remains in terms of ageism and size discrimination in 2016. “While it is exciting to see Nicky garner so much press for showing diverse representation...I think it just shows how far we still have to go,” Baum told Refinery29. “We are still shocked to see a women comfortable in her own skin, so if SLiNK and Nicky can take another baby step towards reminding women that one size and age doesn’t fit all, then it is a good day at the office.”
The images in SLiNK are incredibly glamorous, irrespective of Griffin’s age. But it’s about time we see women far past their teens or 20s (plus the rare, ultra-toned, always-exercising celeb in her 30s or 40s) shot in their skivvies — without it being a huge deal.