Ashley Graham Speaks Out About Agents Telling Her To Lose Weight

Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images.
Thanks to that history-making Sports Illustrated cover, everyone knows who Ashley Graham is, and you'd probably be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn't want to work with her.

However, things didn't happen overnight for the plus-size model. Graham says that when she was first starting out in the modeling industry, she was told to lose weight.

"I had agencies telling me that I had to lose weight," Graham tells People. "I had one that waved money in my face and said, 'If you lose more lbs – pounds – you can make a lot more of this,' and he was waving $20 bills in my face."

Thankfully, Graham remained undeterred in her body confidence, despite the hugely problematic and inappropriate way in which she was told to lose weight.

"That wasn't even a motivator for me to lose weight. I was peaking at a size 18, and in the plus size fashion industry, models go from a size 8 to a size 16/18. So if you're on the smaller size or the bigger size, you're not going to work as much as if you're in the middle. So he was trying to encourage me to lose weight, but it didn't work, because I was that person where if you told me to go on a diet and lose weight, I'm just going to gain weight."

As we know, the kind of pressure Graham faced, aside from being insulting, can be incredibly harmful to women's self-esteem. And unfortunately, body negativity isn't uncommon in the modeling industry. Victoria's Secret model Erin Heatherton has also spoken out about the amount of pressure she was under to lose weight in the industry — pressure that caused her to fall into depression.

In fact, a study published last year in Psychological Science found just how detrimental body image pressure can be. "These findings suggest the possibility that the stigma associated with being overweight is more harmful than actually being overweight," the authors of the study wrote.

While Graham has managed to rise above the negativity, she also tells People that her body image wasn't always so positive, admitting that she struggled with her weight when she first moved from Nebraska to New York City at age 17. Her attitude changed, she says, when she learned to be a little kinder to herself.

"A lot of taking care of my body and my mind and my soul had to do with talking to myself and actually giving myself affirmations. It got me out of my funk. I still had cellulite, I still had back fat, I still had jiggly arms, and I decided to love every part of it."

Given how much scrutiny is placed on women's bodies, it's refreshing to see someone like Graham calling the industry out on its harmful standards. And it's probably safe to say that Graham has had the last laugh, what with the Sports Illustrated cover and all.
Advertisement

More from Body

Julie Krause writes about all things mom, parenting, and relationships at her blog, Baby Rabies, and she has some words of advice for the non-pregnant ...
Let me introduce you all to the love of my life, Sienna Harper Gernon! I've never felt love like it! @justchrisgernon thank you so much, you have been...
Ragazzi mi state seguendo in tanti e vorrei ringraziarvi e scusarmi se non riesco a rispondere a tutti...vi proprio ho una foto che mi ricorda tutte ...
Pregnant women get a lot of advice about motherhood, even when they don't ask for it. And in the first episode of Expecting, from Refinery29's comedy ...
Update: Kopp's original Facebook post has been removed, and, as Shape reports, the chances of contracting an infection so severe that draining is ...
Breast-feeding has numerous benefits for both mother and baby, but it doesn't always come as naturally as we might assume. And, as one viral photo shows, ...
Last week, Kelly Stanley was breast-feeding her 9-month-old baby during dinner when someone else at her table decided to grab a cloth napkin and try to ...
(Paid Content) Stress sweat is different from regular sweat in that it feeds off bacteria and causes odor. Then you start to think about it — producing ...
Periods may be annoying, but at least they're predictable — sort of. If yours is a little delayed this cycle, and you're not trying to get pregnant right ...
It sustains life. It boosts immunity. It may or may not taste like the milk left over from a bowl of Lucky Charms. (Full disclosure: I sampled mine just ...
Gina Rodriguez is the master of keeping it real. She's been open about everything from losing her virginity to coping with thyroid disease, so it makes ...
When you see your friend's adorable baby, your first instinct, understandably, is probably to hug and kiss her all over. However, you might want to think ...
Two years ago, Ericka Hart was about to walk into a Sephora in Lower Manhattan when she looked down at her ringing phone, and stopped right there on Wall...
Eve Torres Gracie, former WWE wrestler and current very dangerous person, posted a moving Instagram photo of her post-baby body today. Inspired by the ...