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Meet the gorgeous model who's the oldest to appear in Sports Illustrated

Ally Hirschlag is a producer/actor/writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY and buys way too many toys for her cats. She contributes to several publications, including Bustle, and The Nerve, and enjoys writing about all things woman. In her spar...

This 56-year-old mother-turned-model is smoking up the pages of Sports Illustrated

Thanks to changing times, the modeling world has begun to welcome a much wider variety of body types than it ever has before. And yes, that includes women in their 50s.

Fifty-six-year-old Nicola Griffin is one such model, although her story is somewhat more remarkable than some of the famous models who started out young and are now in their 50s. For one thing, Griffin decided to get into this incredibly competitive and judgmental business only three years ago, at the age of 53. However, she's already raised twin daughters as a single mom, so it's safe to say she can achieve just about anything to which she sets her mind.

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@milkmodelmanagement #newpic #portfolio #happygirl

A photo posted by Nicola Griffin (@nicolajgriffin) on

And boy, has she. Now, at 56, you can find her in Sports Illustrated as part of the Swimsuits for All ad campaign. The campaign features models of all shapes, sizes and yes, ages, including famous models Ashley Graham and Philomena Kwao, showing off their hottest selves, and Griffin is definitely no slouch by comparison. But the kicker is that she's the oldest model to ever appear in the magazine.

This 56-year-old mother-turned-model is smoking up the pages of Sports Illustrated
Image: Swimsuitsforall

Including Griffin is a huge step forward for the magazine. It shows that it's jumping on board with body acceptance in more ways than one. While plus-size models have been receiving much more attention in recent years, older models are still somewhat on the back burner. The really unfortunate thing about this is that their presence in the modeling world is incredibly uplifting, especially to women who are not having the best time getting older. Having more women like Griffin out in the modeling world will help these women realize how beautiful they still are, despite the flaws that come with aging.

More: Ashley Graham becomes Sports Illustrated's first plus size cover girl

"I gave birth to two 7-pound babies. My stomach is flawed, but it's who I am. I'm fine with that. I don't need to look at a washboard stomach. This is me, as is. I'm happy with that. We've all got flaws, but so what? That's what makes us real women," Griffin told Cosmo. Now isn't that someone you'd want on the cover of your magazine?

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Griffin is a shining example of a woman starting over again and feeling fabulous about it. She's in good health, her children are grown and out of the house, and she's newly single, so all she sees are open doors. Now she's got her dream career and looks amazing in a bikini. I don't know what else one could hope for!

I think there's a certain confidence that only comes with age. Griffin describes having been really hungry and competitive when she was younger, but now that she's in her 50s, she simply goes with the flow and doesn't sweat the small stuff. She told Cosmo, "I've embraced this new career and am getting more confident as it rolls along. If I can do it, absolutely anybody can do it!"

As far as competition with other models goes, Griffin says she is not affected by it at all. She's no longer 20, so she's just not fighting for those jobs fit for younger models. As such, those younger models treat her with love and respect, like an honorary mother. Sounds pretty nice, considering the horror stories we often hear about models vying for gigs!

#behindthescenes #funfunfun

A photo posted by Nicola Griffin (@nicolajgriffin) on

Griffin hopes her presence in this spring's swimsuit edition will inspire women to throw on a swimsuit and enjoy life, no matter their shape, size or age. "Whatever size or shape you are, you too can go out and get yourself a bikini and look good and feel good. You don't have to stay home and think, 'My body's not ready this summer.' It's not about that. It's about showing off what you've got right now."

More: 10 models changing how we view women's bodies

Repeat that to yourself the next time you pass a "get ready for bikini season" advertisement. Bikini season is anytime you feel like wearing one.

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