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Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: Hooray for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
This year, they chose to take a hint from reality and feature a
variety of body types on its
covers, including size 16 model Ashley Graham, body painted UFC star
Ronda Rousey and straight-size model Hailey Clauson. True, all three are pictured in highly sexualized
positions and attire (or lack thereof, in Rousey's case), but hey, baby steps.
Graham's rise to coverdome, in particular, is interesting,
because she first appeared in the 2015 Swimsuit issue … in an ad for a swimwear apparel company called swimsuitsforall, which offers
suits in sizes 8 to 34. All hell broke
loose when the public saw a woman looking like Graham—size 16, no thigh
gap—in a magazine typically reserved for women with measurements more along
the lines of 38-24-34.
This year, swimsuitsforall ran a series of risqué ads, part of its
#swimsexy campaign. In a trio of adverts, three non-traditional (i.e. not thin/busty/uber-toned/young/long hair/white) models work a
shiny Beach Babe Gold Bikini. One of those
women is Nicola Griffin, a 56-year-old mother of fraternal twin daughters, now 21,
from Nottinghamshire, England. She's the oldest person to be featured in a SI swim issue.
Never before has SI included a pinup of a woman who, in her off time, models for a company called White Hot Hair. True, she's not
an actual SI model; swimsuitsforall
paid to be included in the issue. But she is there. She looks like a smokin' hot phoenix rising up out of the
ocean. She is a mom. This is epic evidence that the body- and age- diversity
movements are gaining ground, and that SI actually has balls.
I got the chance to interview Nicky in between
appearances on Good Morning America and
E! and calls from Men's Fitness online. Here's what she had to
Let's talkabout the
response to your ad. Is it what you expected? Why do you think people are so
The response to #SwimSexy has been overwhelming! I am so pleased
with the attention that the campaign has received. So many people have reached
out to me, thanking me for participating in such a groundbreaking ad. I think
that women are thrilled to see someone that they can relate to—its about time
women of all shapes, sizes and ages are represented in the media.
There have been other moms in the SI swimsuit issue, but they look, basically, like your average SI swimsuit model. (i.e. Elle
MacPherson.) Do you think that does a disservice to readers, both male and
I have a normal body of a 56-year-old mother with cellulite, stretch marks, little rolls of fat. But that's a woman's body. I'm proud of that fact.
I think that it is important to show a range of real bodies in
the media. Some women are thin, some are round—I think that the strength of this campaign
lies in the fact that we are showcasing another "sexy." I'm a model, 56. I'm
not a swimsuit model (per se), but I'm fit, I'm healthy. I have a normal body
of a 56-year-old mother with cellulite, stretch marks, little rolls of fat.
But that's a woman's body. I'm proud of that fact. I'm not having to do sit-ups
every day. I'm a mother of two children, 56, with all the flaws that go with
So many women think that once they give
birth, they're forever related to the domain of skirted one-piece swimsuits.But when youposted your SI photo to your
Instagram page, you captioned it, "I'm
56 and I #SwimSexy.
It's never too late to put on a bikini."What's your advice for moms on busting into the world of bikinis?
It's a mindset. If you're happy with yourself and who
you are, if you can embrace your body, you can put a bikini on. But if you're
going to criticize yourself and have negative thoughts, that's not the way to
go. It's all about accepting yourself the way you are. There are lots of moms
out there who have curves, but they look at pictures of size 0 models and they
feel badly about themselves. When you've
had babies and your body changes shape and size, you lose confidence as well.
It's a mindset. Embrace your body—all the curves, all the flaws, just the way
Before this, I'd never worn a bikini. I have very fair
skin, so (when I was a young mom), I'd put a wrap around me, sit under a brellie and (only come out) to chase the kids around the beach. For the swimsuitsforall
shoot, I'd assumed I'd be wearing a (one-piece) bathing suit. It was a bit
nerve-wracking at first, but the swimsuitsforall team and Ashley (Graham) and
Philomena (Kwao, the other #SwimSexy model) made me feel so comfortable.
It was a wonderful experience! I felt good in the bikini—sexy, confident.
Your girls are 21. What was their response to the ad?
It's a myth that women lose their sex appeal as we get older. I've never felt sexier.
"My girls have been so supportive! #SwimSexy has changed my
life, and I am so pleased that I am able to be a body-positive role model for
my girls, as well as other ladies. It's a myth that women lose their sex appeal as
we get older. I've never felt sexier. I'm proud that my daughters get to see me
looking sexy and confident in a bathing suit."
What are some of your best tips for raising kids with
strong body images?
I raised my daughters in a loving environment and accepted them for who
they are. I think it is important to support your children and have an open
dialogue. (When they were young,) I cooked and put three meals a day on the
table, and we ate. I didn't talk about diets, didn't have scales in the house,
had healthy snacks. I taught them how to cook and would talk about different
fruits and vegetables and how good they make you feel. I set an example for
them. Now, they're at university and when they send me Snapchats of what
they're eating, it's exactly the kind of things I would eat: loads of broccoli,
green tea, yogurt, banana.
up, I would give them) treats, like chocolate, but in moderation. Now, we have
a glass of champagne with some orange juice in it and a strawberry on top when
we want to celebrate.
Originally, I found out I was having one baby. Then, at 15 weeks,
I had such bad morning sickness and I went to the doctor, who discovered two babies.
I was scared to go back because I was worried they would tell me there was
another one! It's very difficult, but the years have flown by and if I could do
it all again, I would. Twins are a miracle … the most wonderful thing that ever
happened to me. To have two babies at the same time is so, so, so exciting, so
lovely. I loved every minute of it. It's not easy, but it's worthwhile.