While we now know Ashley Graham as a body positivity warrior, it hasn't always been an easy road. Body acceptance is often a personal journey, and it can be difficult if people around you are dragging you down. Graham spoke about this at the Urban Arts Partnership 25th anniversary benefit, explaining that it was actually her boyfriends who made her feel bad about her weight.
“Nothing’s actually surprised me," she said. "I’ve lived exactly what they’re living. I’ve lived the torment of the names."
She went on to recount a particularly upsetting thing that would happen to her when she was younger involving romantic relationships.
"I’ve lived the torment of boyfriends breaking up with me because they were afraid I was going to be too fat later in life," she revealed. "It’s the same cycle, it doesn’t matter what generation we are in. Every kid is going to go through the same thing."
It's been a tough road, but now Graham sets a wonderful example for those who may currently be struggling. She often takes to Instagram to share messages of positivity, and is working towards bringing diversity to publications that have a track record of sticking with traditional (aka thin) models. She was also the first plus-size model to land her own Vogue cover for Vogue UK.
Despite this, she still has days when she doesn't feel confident.
"I wake up sometimes and I think ‘I’m the fattest woman alive’."
However, she has a genius way of combatting these thoughts.
"But it’s really about how you handle it when you wake up," she explained. "I look in the mirror and I have my affirmations. And mine are simple. [I say] ‘You are bold. You are brilliant and you are beautiful.’ And then if my lower pooch is really puffing out that day, I say ‘Lower pooch you are cute’. And we have a moment. And if the hips are really popping I say ‘I love you too hips.’"
She knows how important it is to hold her head high and keep up the good work because she's paving the way for more progress in the industry.
"[We need] more role models, more women who are like ‘Yeah, I have cellulite. Yeah, it’s even on my arms, not just my legs. My butt is a really bizarre shape but you know what, whatever, I’m just going to go rock it,’" she said. "I think if we had more role models like that that, that were really just speaking their truth about their body and the skin that they’re in then maybe young America would be different."