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See the Model Who Just Made "Sports Illustrated" Swimsuit History Twice

This groundbreaking model is the first of her kind in two major ways.

When you think of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, you likely think of tall, young, thin women. However, this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit runway show—and upcoming issue—are celebrating a wider variety of women than ever before. The 2021 show was the brand's most inclusive yet, featuring models of all different ages, sizes, races, and heights. There were a handful of firsts during this runway show, and one model made history twice. To find out more about Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kathy Jacobs, read on.

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Kathy Jacobs is the oldest and shortest rookie ever to be in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Kathy Jacobs Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Kathy Jacobs is making history as the oldest and shortest rookie in the history of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Jacobs was a model in the '80s and decided to attend an open casting call last year for Sports Illustrated at the age 0f 56. On July 10, during the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue 2021 runway show, she strutted down the catwalk ahead of the release of the popular Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. (Jacobs also walked the runway during Miami Beach Swim Week 2021.)

Jacobs shared a sneak peek of her strut on Instagram. "This is what Runway domination at 57 years old and 5'2" tall looks like on the surface," she said. "What you don't see are the years of hundreds of rejections, discipline, heartbreak, and … perseverance behind what it took to be in this short video!" She told her followers: "Fake it till you make it. If you fall down, get back up and try again!"

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Jacobs said being in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is a "stamp of approval" for all women her age.

Kathy Jacobs Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Fox News asked Jacobs what it meant to her to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue at 57 years old, and she said it was a win for all middle-aged women. "I feel like it's a stamp of approval not just for me, but for all the women my age out there. At our age, we don't have to hide," she said. "I'm honestly so grateful that they let me be in the same magazine with girls who are younger than me, even younger than my own daughter. And yet, no one bats an eyelash. You're treated like everybody else."

Jacobs added that she hopes her appearance in the magazine helps all women feel more confident about getting older. "I feel like being in this magazine not only helps other women my age but younger girls too. Everyone's so terrified about getting older," said Jacobs. "Being in this magazine is really a ripple effect. It allows people my age to feel beautiful, to feel sexy."

Jacobs says she stays in shape via her diet and remaining active, like taking belly dancing classes.

Kathy Jacobs Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
John Parra/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

If you're wondering how Jacobs maintains such an impressive physique, she revealed her routine to Fox News. Jacobs said before quarantine she loved doing F45 workouts and taking belly dancing classes. However, while studios were closed, Jacobs did at-home classes taught by instructors Sports Illustrated featured, like Katrina Scott.

When it comes to her diet, Jacobs says she limits her sugar, bread, and pasta intake and only eats out one or two times a week. "I was pre-diabetic and had high cholesterol, so the doctor made me cut out all that stuff. But the good news is that I actually lost weight, and I'm a lot healthier," she said.

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Jacobs is glad the modeling industry has evolved, but she says it still has room to grow.

Kathy Jacobs Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

Jacobs modeled for Ford in the '80s, and she said the industry has changed over the years. She noted that at that time, there weren't many curvy models and she loves that "we can celebrate different body types now."  However, she feels that "one glass ceiling that hasn't been shattered yet is height." She said that she's faced many roadblocks due to being well under what's considered the minimum height for a woman model: 5'8".

"Being in Sports Illustrated is also a win for the short girls out there," said Jacobs. "I'm hoping that in me being included, short girls are going to be on the map. I feel like that's one variable that hasn't changed in this industry."

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