But, as she reveals in her 2015 TED talk, “I was in an industry that defined perfection from the outside in.” Graham’s story, proving weight is no barrier, is an empowering one that women (and men) have been captivated by.
Here’s 10 reasons why we love her
1. Ashley Graham for Sports Illustrated
Graham, 30, was the first plus size 14 model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated and has been on three covers in total. “I felt free once I realised I was never going to fit the narrow mould society wanted me to fit in.”
2. She flaunts her cellulite
This woman is friends with her cellulite. At the beginning of her 2015 TED Talk she gave it praise, “Cellulite … I’m gonna choose to love you even though you wanna take over my whole bottom half. But you’re a part of me and I love you.”
3. Ashley Graham advocated body confidence
“I do my best to eat well. I love the skin I'm in. And I'm not ashamed of a few lumps, bumps or cellulite.. and you shouldn't be either.” A fan posted back “Thank you so much for posting this and similar photos. I’m struggling with my own internal body shaming now that swimsuit season is here. This makes it a tad easier.”
4. She owns her curves
This shot, taken for New York magazine shows how bold the swimsuit model is. “I felt free once I realised I was never going to fit the narrow mould society wanted me to fit in,” says the size 16 model, who is 175cm in height.
5. Ashley Graham looks great nude!
Graham’s message is one of body confidence, no matter what the fashion industry says. This naked Instagram photo of Ashley covering her boobs posted on May 5, 2017 got nearly 300k likes. “Be comfortable in your OWN skin. #beautybeyondsize”.
6. She is an inspiration
This gorgeous nude black and white shoot by Patrick Demarchelier for Love Magazine lit up on social media.
One fan commented, “I wish I had half the confidence you have girl! I have been battling an eating disorder for over 10 yrs to keep up with the social norm of what I think society wants me to look like. I hope one day I can get the help to be able to accept and love myself inside and out like you do, stretch marks and all! Thank you for being an inspiration to us thick girls!”
7. Ashley Graham's naked photo for Elle France shows how far she has come
For a long time, Graham struggled to accept herself, but as this naked photo, from her Elle France shoot posted on National Nude day (Jul. 15), Graham’s determination and self-love has won out.
Speaking of her early modelling days Graham said in her 2015 TED talk, “I couldn’t seem to get a handle on regulating my own weight … I, like so many young women have struggled to love who I am.” Going by this image, looks like she’s got it!
8. She’s imperfectly perfect
An IMG model, Graham’s 107cm boobs, 80cm waist and 118cm reflect an everyday woman rather than a fashion model. “There is no such thing as perfection, so stop striving for it,” posted Graham with this topless photo on May 17, 2017.
9. She’s just like us
In an issue of V Magazine, Graham discussed her body issues as a teenager. “I think I hit bottom around 18. I was disgusted with myself and told my mum I was coming home.
"And she told me, ‘No, you’re not, because you told me that this was what you wanted and I know you’re supposed to do this. It doesn’t matter what you think about your body, because your body is supposed to change somebody’s life.’”
10. Ashley Graham held out for sex
This topless shot from Grazia UK exudes Graham’s lust for life. And it was that passion that led her to her husband of 8 years, cinematographer Justin Ervin. Graham joined a Christian church because she was unhappy with the men she’d met. “I truly wasn’t looking for anyone other than the person I wanted to be.”
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But after talking with Ervin that changed. In her book A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like she says, “My romance with Justin was innocent and sweet. We went rollerblading and biking; we did karaoke, went to the movies, took an improv class together.
"Because we weren’t sleeping together — for Justin, abstinence was a firm commitment to his faith — we never tempted ourselves by going over to each other’s apartments late at night.”