At 5-feet-3-inches, 57-year-old Kathy Jacobs is proudly the “oldest and shortest” Sports Illustrated Swimsuit rookie in the brand’s history.
Jacobs, who was a petite model in the ‘80s, came to an open casting call for SI Swimsuit at age 56. She went on to make her debut as part of the 2020 model search. The star will be part of this year’s sizzling issue, which will hit newsstands on July 19. On Saturday, Jacobs will join several SI Swimsuit stars for PARAISO Miami Beach Swim Week 2021 where they will make a splash on the runway at Mondrian Hotel South Beach’s Baia Beach Club.
Jacobs spoke to Fox News about appearing in this year’s issue, how she physically prepared for her close-up, as well as some of the most memorable messages she has received from men and women.
Model Kathy Jacobs poses for a portrait at her home in Calabasas, Calif. on Friday, July 17, 2020. The star made her Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue debut at age 56. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Fox News: How does it feel to be featured in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue?
Kathy Jacobs: It’s a dream come true. It doesn’t even feel real. I’m going to believe it when I actually see the photos in the magazine *laughs*. That’s when it’s really going to hit me. But I’m happy. I haven’t stopped smiling.
Fox News: And you’re a rookie.
Jacobs: And I’m the oldest rookie ever, which makes it even more exciting.
Fox News: We haven’t seen your new photos yet, but take us back to the shoot. What was that experience like for you?
Jacobs: I felt a crazy mixture of emotions. For one, I was super grateful. I was super excited. But I was also really nervous. I hardly had any sleep the night before. I was just too excited – and nervous – about the next day. I got up before the sun came up and went to get my hair and makeup done. I had a really big breakfast so I wouldn’t get cranky *laughs*. But when that first shot happened, I was pretty scared. I just kept thinking to myself, “Oh my God.” Because it wasn’t just me. There was this whole crew. So I was pretty nervous.
Kathy Jacobs said at-home workouts helped her prepare for the sizzling shoot. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
But everybody is just so nice to you. They’re constantly encouraging you. They’re going, “You’re doing such a good job.” “You’re so beautiful.” “You’re so wonderful.” It made me feel better and more relaxed. So after that first shot, I really focused on what they wanted. I really trusted their vision… And it just felt so good. Like I could pull this off *laughs*. I felt, “I could do this.” And I did.
Fox News: How did you physically prepare for the shoot?
Jacobs: I wasn’t doing my regular workouts during quarantine. I do F45 right by my house and I love the people there. I also love taking bellydance classes. But you know, SI featured Katrina Scott and these other guests who would literally come on and do these free workouts. So I would just do those workouts at home. And I think it helped me because it gave me something to look forward to. I felt like I was training for my shoot.
In terms of my diet, I don’t eat a lot of sugar, bread or pasta. I eat 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. Now I have to maintain that diet. People always ask me, “What do you do for a workout?” “Why is your stomach flat?” I feel like when I cut out all that bread, pasta, cheese, rice and white potatoes, my stomach gets flatter. Of course, I’m no dietician. But it has worked for me.
Kathy Jacobs was a model for Ford in the ’80s. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
Fox News: What does it mean for you to be part of SI Swimsuit at 57 years young?
Jacobs: I feel like it’s a stamp of approval not just for me, but for all the women my age out there. Being able to represent a lady in my age range is such a huge honor. At our age, we don’t have to hide. 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.
Life doesn’t stop when you become a certain age. So 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. I’ve had so many younger girls message me and say, “Thank you so much for doing this because I’m not terrified of getting older anymore. I know my life is not going to end once I reach 30, 40, 50 or 60.” Being in this magazine is really a ripple effect. It allows people my age to feel beautiful, to feel sexy. It gives us that stamp of approval to feel beautiful and sexy.
Kathy Jacobs said being part of SI Swimsuit has been an empowering experience. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
Fox News: You modeled in the ‘80s for Ford. How has the industry changed over the years?
Jacobs: Back in the ‘80s, we really didn’t have curve models as we do now, which I absolutely love. It has become more mainstream. I love that we can celebrate different body types. But one glass ceiling that hasn’t been shattered yet is height. I’ve faced so many roadblocks because of my height, not even my age… Being in Sports Illustrated is also a win for the short girls out there. It gives us the stamp of approval as well. 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… Because back in the ‘80s, you had to be super tall.
Models Jamea Byrd, Miki Hamano, Robin Holzken, Hyunjoo Hwang, Ashley Alexiss, Soraya Id, Katina Taylor, Brielle Anyea, Brooks Nader and Kathy Jacobs attend the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show During Miami Swim Week At W South Beach – Front Row/Backstage at WET poolside lounge at W South Beach on July 14, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
Fox News: It’s been reported that you also make your own skincare products.
Jacobs: I’ve been mixing up my own products for quite some time. I really tried to get it manufactured. I was on this show and I lost ironically to a girl selling bikinis. Isn’t that funny? All I needed to do was put on a bikini and I could’ve gotten that skincare manufacturer *laughs*. Long story short, I’ve been through a few different companies, a couple of people, and they quickly fell through.
Now I’m back up again and working on a skincare brand for women 50 and over. I want to develop a brand with my own formulas… Since Sports Illustrated, people have been reaching out to me to promote their brands. But I make my own stuff and I would love to get it out there.
Fox News: As you brought up, many people write to you. What’s the funniest or most memorable message you’ve received from anyone?
Jacobs: Oh my gosh, I don’t know which lane to take here *laughs*. There’s someone – and I don’t know how they found my address – but they sent me a whole bunch of photos of myself. They blew them up, printed them out beautifully, and sent them to me to autograph. It had a note like “I’m a brain cancer survivor, this would mean so much to me. You’re such an inspiration.” I thought that was so touching, so of course, I signed them.
Model Kathy Jacobs will be feature in this year’s SI Swimsuit issue, which hits newsstands on July 19. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
I get a lot of messages from men saying, “Finally, I could Google a lady my own age. I can look at a woman in a bikini and not feel guilty. Finally, there’s somebody appropriate for my age.” The brand has been around for a long time. I was literally born the same month and year that the first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue hit newsstands – January 1964. So a lot of men and women have grown up with the magazine. They have said “How great it is to see a lady in here my age? I can relate to it more.” I think it’s super nice and it’s just so awesome they feel that way… Life doesn’t have to stop when you age.