This Is The Oldest Model To Ever Appear In A Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Photo: Courtesy of Swimsuitsforall.
Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue is usually filled with an array of standard-issue beauties (voluptuous but more or less sample-sized, and primarily in their 20s). This year’s release is punctuated by a first — the oldest model to appear in the popular issue’s pages, ever. She’s not in an editorial spread, alas, but 56-year-old model Nicola Griffin appears in Swimsuitsforall’s ad campaign.

Believe it or not, Griffin had never worn a bikini before appearing in the ads. "I didn’t realize I’d be wearing a bikini, and I was a little anxious — in my entire life, I’ve never been in a bikini,” she tells Refinery29. “I’ve always been more comfortable in full swimsuits that hold everything in. It was very liberating, actually. I’ve got a rounded tummy — I’ve had twins — and I found that to be quite sexy while wearing a gold bikini.”

“I’m fed up of seeing only slim, twentysomething girls in advertisements," Griffin adds. "I can’t relate to size-0 models, and I can’t see myself in those clothes. Most people don’t have [the] perfect photoshopped body,” she says, finishing on an empowering note. “By being 56 and wearing a bikini, hopefully I can empower women of my age to be sexy — not just when they’re wearing swimsuits.”
Advertisement
Photo: Courtesy of Swimsuitsforall.
Plus-size models Ashley Graham (below) and Philomena Kwao (above) also starred in the Swimsuitsforall campaign alongside Griffin.

“Ashley has this curvy body and is so proud of it. I spent a lot of my life on diets, talking about calories with my girlfriends. Boring, boring!” Griffin says. “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.”

Graham also starred in Swimsuitsforall’s #CurvesInBikinis campaign that ran in last year’s Swimsuit Issue — arguably garnering nearly as much attention for the ads as Robyn Lawley did for being the first plus-size model to be featured in the Issue’s editorial coverage.
Photo: Courtesy of Swimsuitsforall.

“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,” Griffin says of the campaign’s most significant impact. “It’s a really important message.”

Check out some exclusive behind-the-scenes shots of Griffin and Graham, below:
Photo: Courtesy of Swimsuitsforall.
Photo: Courtesy of Swimsuitsforall.

More from Fashion

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Documentary
Five love stories behind diverse, multicultural marriages.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Life experiments, 5 days at a time.
Watch Now
Fashion
The style of subculture.
Watch Now
Beauty
Viral trends, tried and tested.
Watch Now
Documentary
From vibrators to lipstick, learn how your favorite products are made.
Watch Now
Documentary
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
Documentary
The latest stories to watch.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Inside the homes of millennial women — & what they paid for them
Watch Now
Comedy
Let's talk about sex, baby.
Watch Now
Documentary
Female artisans around the world
Watch Now
Politics
Made by and for smart, opinionated women.
Watch Now
Film
We helped 12 female directors claim their power.