Nicola Griffin, 56, Rocks Bikini in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Makes History and Joins Ashley Graham

"As an older woman, I feel empowered and sexy in my bikini," Griffin told E! News exclusively

By Corinne Heller Feb 10, 2016 8:35 PMTags
Watch: Nicola Griffin Feels "Sexy" in Swimsuits For All Campaign

Model Nicola Griffin, 56, is making history.

Swimsuit company swimsuitsforall wants you to remind you people of all shapes and sizes—and ages—can rock a bikini body. Its new #SwimSexy campaign ad photos, which will be featured in the upcoming 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, features three curvy models: Griffin, who will be the oldest woman to appear in the special annual edition since its 1964 debut, supermodel Ashley Graham, 28, and British Ghanaian model Philomena Kwao. The three wear gold bikinis.

"As an older woman, I feel empowered and sexy in my bikini," Griffin told E! News exclusively in a group interview.


She began her modeling career at age 53, after her children left home to attend college, with a campaign for White Hot Hair products. Her debut in the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in the form of an ad marks a personal first for her as well.

"I've never actually worn a bikini," Griffin said. "This is the first time."

"Are you only going to wear bikinis now?" Graham asked her.

"Yes, I am," Griffin replied. "It's amazing. I would never have thought of saying that but...it's the first time and it felt wonderful."

Swimsuitsforall offers what it calls "sexy plus-size swimwear and swimsuit sizes 8 through 34." It says on its website, regarding the new campaign, "The gold standard: Confident curves. Rock your bikini body at any age or size."

"People think you lose your sex appeal as you get older—but that's a myth; I've never felt sexier," Griffin said in a statement released by the company. "I have two daughters and I'm so proud they get to see me looking sexy and confident in a bathing suit."


In addition to the swimsuitsforall ads, Graham also appears in official photos taken for the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She had made her debut in the annual edition last year, also in a swimsuitsforall ad.

Watch: "Sports Illustrated" Model Ashley Graham Lands New Ad

"I know that it's brought me a lot of encouragement and understand of my own body, representing a brand like this, who wants me to show off my curves, wants me to show off the things that society has called 'flaws'—my back fat, my cellulite, the things that jiggle that aren't supposed to," she told E! News.

Graham said she moved to New York City at age 17 and had at the time gained weight, going from a size 12 to a size 18.

Watch: Plus-Size Model Ashley Graham on Conquering Insecurity

"My self-esteem, it just got shot and I did not like the woman that I saw in the mirror and not only were there like moments with friends' mothers who told me, 'Oh well, you know what? God actually didn't make you a thin girl for a reason 'cause He knew what you were gonna do with your body,'" she said.

"And I still, to this day, don't know what that means," Graham added. "But today, what I'm doing now with my body is embracing it and letting other women know that you are beautiful no matter what size or shape you are."

The 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue will be released later this month and also features MMA star Ronda Rousey, who doesn't wear a swimsuit at all.