Tyra Banks, 45, is the oldest woman ever to cover 'Sports Illustrated' in a bikini

Kerry Justich

Tyra Banks has been blazing trails for women with curves and color in the modeling industry for years. But with her return to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, she’s now, at 45, the oldest to grace the cover and leading the way yet again for a different group.

Talking to Yahoo Lifestyle on the BUILD series stage, the model and mogul revealed why, after leaving the modeling world to focus on her entrepreneurial gigs and motherhood, she decided to reemerge — and why it was so important to do so.

“I retired from modeling when I was 32 years old and I did it specifically because of age and the ageism in the industry,” Banks explains. Basically, she wanted to get out before she could be kicked out. “However, over the years, I’m preaching inclusivity, beauty, size, height, skin, everything, hair — and age.”

Tyra Banks poses for 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
Tyra Banks poses for 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. (Photo: SI/Courtesy)

And she practices what she preaches.

Even when it came to her popular show America’s Next Top Model, Banks says that she took the age cap off, changing the eligibility rules to encompass applicants of all ages.

“But here I am still the girl, or woman, that retired because of age,” she admits. “So I felt that I wanted to now represent what I am saying, and not just preach it but be it.”

And yea, she thinks being the “oldest ever” is “super cool.”

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle

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