How Ashley Graham’s Self-Love Helped Her Land The Cover Of SI

Photo: Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images.
All the hype and anticipation around Ashley Graham's Sports Illustrated cover came to a head this week when the 2016 Swimsuit Issue finally hit newsstands, marking the magazine's first major embrace of body acceptance. We got a chance to chat with Graham last Tuesday at the issue's launch party in New York City, where she shared the confidence trick that she believes landed her the cover. Luckily, it's useful for all women, even the ones who don't aspire to grace the pages of SI. It all started with her appearance in a 2015 SI ad. After that, she said she knew she'd one day make the cover — and she didn't hesitate to start announcing her prediction to the press. "I was like, 'You are going to see me on the cover.' Sure enough, [it happened]," Graham told us, adding, "You have to be careful, because your words have power." In this case, her words worked as a promise to herself that she'd make it far, despite societal beauty standards. But she was quick to add that words can just as easily bring you down — if you let them. "When you look in the mirror and say, 'I'm ugly, I'm hideous, I'm fat,' at the end of the day, you are going to become ugly or fat [in your eyes]," she said. "Honestly, we need to start treating ourselves a little bit better. That's what I've done with the affirmation I say in my mirror." Graham also recognizes that self-love is half the battle, since body positivity is something all women should be striving for. She told us that she was pleasantly surprised that fellow models Gigi Hadid and Lily Aldridge were such supportive fans. (Seriously, looks like they all had a great time celebrating the cover.) "They know who we curvy girls are. And that, to me, was amazing, because I look up to them," she said. "The fact that they come up to me and say, 'Ashley, we are so excited for you!' That is awesome. It's power; it's woman power. We all have to do this together." Now that Graham has achieved her goal of landing the cover of SI, we had to ask: What's next? She told us, "The Ashley Graham show. It is happening." You heard it here first, folks.

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