The infamous US magazine Sports Illustrated may have been guilty of conforming to unrealistic fashion industry norms in the past (i.e by featuring photographs of only sample sized, perfect looking 20-year-olds), but it appears they are at least trying to diversify.
This year, their annual Swimsuit Issue is punctuated by a first – a 56-year-old model. She is the oldest ever model to be featured in the issue, ever. She’s not in an editorial spread, alas, but Nicola Griffin appears in Swimsuitsforall’s ad campaign. As part of their Swimsuits for All #SwimSexy campaign, Griffen and plus-size model Ashley Graham make their debut in the publication.
“I didn’t realise I’d be wearing a bikini, and I was a little anxious — in my entire life, I’ve never been in a bikini,” Griffin told Refinery29. “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, twenty-something girls in advertisements. 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 said, 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.
Graham was also thrilled to be featured.
The curvaceous model is becoming a big name in the industry having modelled at NYFW and appeared on the cover of Elle. She has long been an advocate of loving your body, regardless of your shape, and frequently takes to Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag ‘#IAmSizeSexy.’ She was also the star of Lane Bryant’s campaign #PlusIsEqual, which supports “women of all shapes and sizes, and calls for greater representation of women of all body types.”
Though the fashion industry has a long way to go in terms of full-scale diversity, small steps such as these are encouraging to see. Let’s hope that competing publications go down the same path so that this becomes the norm, as opposed to groundbreaking news.