At age 56, not only did Nicola Griffin wear a bikini for the first time, but she also made history for being the oldest woman to appear in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue since it launched in 1964.
And now, she wants you to proudly flaunt your curves, too.
Griffin, along with Philomena Kwao and Ashley Graham, are the latest models to appear in the #SwimSexy ad campaign for plus-size swimwear brand swimsuitsforall. The jaw-dropping images reveal the trio emerging from the Caribbean sea like sirens, each rocking a golden two-piece that reveals their fuller figures in all their glory. But unlike Kwao, a British Ghanian model and humanitarian, and Graham, a 2016 Sports Illustrated Rookie, Griffin is a relatively unknown model and mother of two from Nottingham, England — or at least she was unknown until now.
Griffin, whose striking silver mane helped her launch a modeling career just three years ago, has since been inspiring women to bare it all.
Fox News Magazine spoke exclusively with Griffin about #SwimSexy and Sports Illustrated — and what she really thinks about celebrities who go gray on purpose.
FNM: What made you want to pursue modeling?
NG: I first started modeling three years ago, and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. After my two daughters left for university, I found myself an empty-nester and ready to take on something new. I was approached to audition for a shampoo ad that ended up being pretty big in the UK. This led to becoming involved with the Swimsuitsforall #SwimSexy campaign in Sports Illustrated, and me wearing a bikini for the first time!
FNM: What's different about this #SwimSexy campaign?
NG: I absolutely fell in love. The whole message is incredible — promoting body-positivity and empowering women to love their bodies.
FNM: For those who aren’t familiar, what's the campaign all about?
NG: #SwimSexy is an inspiring movement proving that anyone can look sexy in a swimsuit, regardless of age, shape or size. I — alongside two other amazing women, Ashley Graham and Philomena Kwoa — had so much fun making it happen. I’m truly blown away by momentum the campaign has generated.
FNM: The campaign was featured in this year’s Swimsuit Issue, making you the oldest model to ever appear in the mag. How does this title make you feel?
NG: It makes me feel grateful that I can help break the mold that media has set on beauty. You can look sexy in a swimsuit whether you’re in your 50s, 60s or 70s. I am 56, rocking a gold bikini, flaunting all of my assets, and could not feel any better about it!
FNM: In your opinion, why are people still shocked to see an older woman rocking a bikini?
NG: I think people are shocked that older women can be confident with their curves, and flaunt their natural bodies. There is a notion that women can’t be sexy as they get older, and that is just not true!
FNM: What was your reaction when you saw yourself in a bikini for the first time?
NG: I was so happy with how the campaign turned out. There actually weren’t any mirrors at the shoot, so I had no idea what to expect. It helped to ease my nerves and let me completely embrace the moment.
FNM: You once mentioned you feel empowered and sexy in your bikini. Could you talk a little bit more about that?
NG: I didn’t have anything to prove. Everything was as-is. My stretch marks are the result of my two beautiful daughters. It was empowering having everything on show and proving to the world that you can look and feel sexy in your 50s!
FNM: Some women work tirelessly to hide their grays, but you embrace it. What’s the secret behind your gorgeous hair?
NG: I actually gave up dying my hair at 42. I was spending crazy money keeping up with a dull, dark color that just wasn’t me. Going back to my natural hair wasn’t easy, and took a while, but it has definitely paid off. I now cut my hair myself and alternate between washes and styling.
FNM: We hear some celebrities purposely dye their hair gray. How do you respond to this trend?
NG: I think it's great that celebrities are choosing to style their hair this way. It is nothing to be ashamed of. I do think it is funny that people are trying to emulate something that happened to me naturally, but I am happy they are experimenting!
FNM: What’s your relationship like with the other two women featured in the #SwimSexy campaign?
NG: Both Ashley and Philomena are so lovely, it was wonderful working with them on this campaign. I am inspired by their activism to further the body-positivity movement!
FNM: What’s the message you hope women, especially older women, will get from the campaign?
NG: I hope that women of all ages, shapes and races look at this campaign and see themselves. It is important that women feel represented in the media, since normally advertisements feature younger, thinner girls.
FNM: And finally, what advice do you have for women who may not feel comfortable wearing a bikini, but would like to?
NG: You have to embrace who you are and learn to feel sexy in your skin. Nobody is perfect! Everyone is born a different shape and size. That is what makes you unique and beautiful.