Why Is Nobody Talking About the 56-Year-Old in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue?


Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: Hooray for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

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 say.

Let’s talk about the response to your ad. Is it what you expected? Why do you think people are so excited?

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.

Keep reading at mom.me…


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These Freckles Portraits are Spot On

In 2012, photographer Brock Elbank was playing in a weekend-league football match in Sydney when a spectator caught his eye. It was his teammate’s son, Eddie, 10 at the time, with “an incredible face full of freckles, like I’d never seen before,” he says. (This was hardly the first time Elbank had found himself drawn to a quirky, distinctive facial feature; he’s also shot scores of bewhiskered men for his #Beardinstallation.) With permission from Eddie’s father, Elbank had the young lad sit for a portrait, and the session touched off what he calls an obsession with freckles.

He has since shot more than 90 portraits for his new #Freckles series, from women whose shoulders and cheeks are just dusted with dots to a nose-pierced gentleman with freckles traipsing over his eyelids, across his lips, and everywhere in-between. His subjects, who hail from Britain, Cambodia, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Kuwait, Japan, the U.S., and more countries, come in all ages, sizes, and ethnicities, with one thing in common.







Make that a few thousand things. Recent coverage of #Freckles made the project go viral, and Elbank has been inundated with messages from freckled folks the world over — more than 1,100 emails in the past week alone, not to mention countless messages on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.

While the series has garnered much support (“Stunning!”; “Makes me wish I had even more freckles!”; “As I look through your pictures, I am reminded of my mom saying my freckles are angel kisses. I feel that way when I look at the people you photograph.”), Elbank says there is a darker side to the collection. “99% of these individuals have all suffered some sort of teasing, bullying, or verbal abuse,” Elbank, now U.K.-based, says. “People can be so narrow-minded and cruel. Every one of us is the same. Just because some are visually different shouldn’t mean they get a rough time at school and from society.”

See some of the breathtaking photos in my Refinery29.com slideshow, here.

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OMG, What’s a GMO?!

Confused by all the crazy labels you’re bombarded with at the store? Think you’re being healthy by buying “natural” peanut butter? Freaked out by GMOs, even though you have no clue what they are? Then check out my Cosmo story, “When Did Food Get So Scary?”



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A Medical Crisis Led Me to My Best Friend

So proud of this story: I interviewed three pairs of best friends, all of whom met via incredible medical circumstances. One pair met while they were both awaiting heart transplants at Northwestern; another came together through embryo adoption; the third were backyard neighbors who had never met until one showed up at the other’s house with a razor and a request to help her shave (she was going through breast cancer treatment at the time and couldn’t raise her arm.) The story ran in Redbook. Read on and prepare to tear up!

A Medical Crisis Led Me to My Best Friend

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Starting Over…

For Woman’s Day magazine, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mariela Shaker, an exceptionally talented Syrian violinist who escaped her country’s civil war and is now living – and thriving – in Chicago.

Read the story here.

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