At 56 years old and 5 feet, 3 inches tall, Kathy Jacobs is breaking down barriers in the modeling world. But of course, there are some haters along the way.
“People say horrible things to me all the time,” Jacobs told TODAY Style. “I recently started getting fat-shamed as well, because I do these lives (videos) where I am baking. Apparently, I don't need a scale because I have Instagram. But it’s crazy … when I get a mean comment, it’s usually a woman.”
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Critics also tell Jacobs that a woman her age can’t be sexy but the model rejects that sentiment. “I do wanna be sexy and I don’t give an f-u-you know what because I feel that one of the biggest obstacles for women over 50 to overcome in this world is not seeing themselves as sexy anymore. So if people see me as objectifying myself as being sexy, heck yes!”
The outspoken wife and mom of one is about to have her own magazine spread in the 2021 issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine after winning a model search contest in this year’s issue. But about one year ago, she was sweeping the floor at a Drybar hair salon, working for minimum wage before she started getting modeling gigs again. That hard work has informed her relentless attitude and unfettered determination.
“You have to understand, I am grateful for any amount of success I have," Jacobs, who lives in the Los Angeles area, said. “I have been over 50 working a kiosk in the rain on Hollywood Blvd. for Valentine’s Day. So having someone criticize me because I got some sort of fame or am in Sports Illustrated is definitely not going to get to me like someone who may be 26 who has only experienced the good in their life. I have been down, so I appreciate being up.”
Not only is Jacobs’ upcoming appearance in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit making headlines, she recently went viral on TikTok when a user shared a video of her walking a runway during a show, and captioned it, “Granny still got it.”
While she is not a grandmother yet, being called a granny really doesn’t faze her because she has learned to not take herself so seriously. Plus, the memes that feature her help her reach more people. “I'm not offended because honestly, you can't even imagine the people, the women, the ladies my age, who direct message me and leave comments and say, ‘Oh my God, thank you so much for representing us," she said. "Or the young girls who say, ‘I don't care about getting older because of you. Thank you for doing this.’”
And while Jacobs is breaking down barriers for older women in modeling and acting, she is also breaking down barriers for the shorter girls as well, who she says, have the most discriminated body type in the industry. She points out, “The average height of the American woman is 5 feet, 4 inches. How many women that height do you see on the runway? Zero.
“I have had so many agencies turn me down, not because I’m old but because I’m short. They love my look, they all call me in, and then when I come in, they tell me I am too short. I feel more discrimination about being short than being older in the modeling industry.”
Jacobs is unabashedly herself, so much so that she actually maintains her gray hair by dying more of her hair to match the color she naturally has.
“Honestly, it's more of a statement to have your hair look more gray and say you can still be sexy than it is to not have your hair gray,” she said. “I get a lot of flack for doing that. You'd be surprised the people who send me messages and say, ‘Why don't you dye your hair, you would look so much prettier if your hair wasn’t that color.’
“That just makes me want to keep it the way it is even more.”
Jacobs hopes people learn from her story and says, “They should never give up on themselves.
“If they fall down, they should put on the big-girl pants, or in my case, a bikini, and keep going. I have failed so many times and I'm just showing people, if you keep trying, you're gonna come up with the odds in your favor.
“If you don't want to be sexy over 50, that is fine, too. But what is it that you want to be over 50? Do you want to be the best person playing golf or mahjong? Then go for that. You want to be a business woman or maybe you want to do nothing and be retired? Go for that, you know? I myself want to be sexy over 50 and I'm not ashamed of it.”