This year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue shows more diversity than ever featuring both curvy models — and for the first time — a silver fox.  

Nicola Griffin, a 56-year-old single mom, who only began her modeling career three years ago, appears in the magazine in a shiny gold biking as part of a campaign for plus-size retailer Swimsuits For All.  And she looks smokin'. It takes guts to pose in a bikini for a national magazine — at any age. We called Griffin for her confidence tips that apply to all ages. 

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How did the opportunity to pose in Sports Illustrated come about?

Swimsuits For All got in touch with my agent and asked me about it. I went to three castings. … The bikinis they gave me to try on all had very large bottoms that came up really high, which I don’t look quite good in to be honest. I didn’t try on anything at the castings that looked like the bikini they used. When they gave it to me at the shoot, I thought they were mistaken.

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How did you feel when you put it on?

It was liberating. I thought, this is the body of a 56-year-old woman, flaws, cellulite, stretch marks and all. Everyone at the shoot was so lovely that it made me feel really at ease. I felt quite confident.

How can women be as confident as you are?

It’s a mindset. You have to think to yourself, this is what I have to work with, this is who I am, and I’m going to go make the best of it. I’m going to feel beautiful. That inner feeling gives you a glow. Women are unique in our sizes. None of us are the same. So you just have to think, I am beautiful the way I am.

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Does embracing aging work the same way?

Yeah, I think so. I look in the mirror and I see wrinkles, but I think, well in 10 years there are going to be a lot more. I feel quite young at 56. When my mom was 56, she didn’t wear makeup and she looked like a proper granny. At that time, women over 50 were sort of invisible. But it’s not like that now. My kids are grown and at 56, I have a new career. I’ve reinvented myself. And if I can do that, anyone can do that.

You have 21-year-old twin daughters. What do they think of the photos?

They think it’s amazing. I’ve been supporting them and being proud of them for 21 years, and now they are proud of me. When they were growing up, I didn’t talk to them about body image or confidence. I led by example. I worked hard, never talked about dieting, never had scales in the house. I made three meals a day and we ate them. There was no fuss or nonsense. Even now, I don’t lecture them. Instead, I’ll Snapchat them what I’m making for dinner and then they’ll ask me for the recipe and how to make it. That’s how I show them to cook healthy meals for one.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence