Woman becomes Sports Illustrated swimsuit model at age 57

Photo of Nina Cash was taken by Aaron Cash.

When most guys think of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition, they recall images of young, busty teens and women with perfect, air-brushed bodies.

It’s for that reason many women often resent that issue for its portrayal of impossibly-perfect models who bear little resemblance to real life.

Yet, Nina Cash is shattering those perceptions this year by becoming a model at age 57, and landing a spot in one of the world’s most iconic magazines.

“To this day I still pinch myself,” she told Fox News. “Is this even happening to me? Just a year and a half ago, I was an associate dean at a university. Now I’m a rookie who’s going to be on the 60th anniversary issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.”

Nina’s husband encouraged her to submit photos for consideration. He was roundly criticized for doing so, but Nina quickly came to his defense.

“My husband encouraged me because I wanted to do it. Big difference,” said Nina. “He didn’t say, ‘I want you to show everybody that you could wear a bikini at 57′. He said, ‘Honey, if you want to do it, I support you 125%.'”

As a younger woman, Nina never considered wearing a two-piece swimsuit because she was afraid of being judged. However, like most older people, she finally reached an age when she no longer cared what other people thought of her or what she was doing.

“Who cares what other people think? There are always going to be critics, no matter what you do,” Nina explained. “But if you stay true to yourself and block that out, you’re going to be happy.

“If you’re a light that shines bright, people who are unhealed will be negatively affected by that light. I say shine bright anyway,” she added.

Today, Nina hopes her images will inspire other people to take leaps in life and pursue their dreams – regardless of their age, Fox News noted.

“Live life and embrace all the different stages of it,” she said. “Embrace the heartaches, the bad stuff, the good things – that’s what life is all about. And if you’re lucky to live a long life, then you are very fortunate. It’s an absolute privilege to grow old.”

Nina’s Sports Illustrated photos and her full profile story are available at Fox News.