Ashley Graham is an icon among models. She's been on plenty of magazine covers and starred in even more ad campaigns. The 29-year-old's body positive message has resonated with countless fans, not to mention other plus-size models. But in the July issue of Glamour, Graham revealed that she was sexually harassed when she first started modeling at age 17.
"There was an incident on set of a campaign job when I was 17 years old — I haven't told this story — and there was a photo assistant who was into me," Graham told Glamour. "He was like, 'Hey, come here,' and he led me into a closet. And I was like, 'What?' I thought he was going to show me something. And he pulled me in, and he pulled his penis out. And he was like, 'Grab it.' And I was like, 'No! That’s disgusting.' I freaked out. And thank God I was closer to the door, and I just bolted out."
Glamour's Lauren Chan asked Graham if she was able to tell anyone about the incident when it happened. The model said that she didn't — but she's seen the same man at other gigs since then. "I even knew a girl he dated. I didn't tell her because there was a voice in me that said, 'Maybe he's changed.' It was my young mentality," Graham told the magazine. "But I told myself, ever since that incident, that I wasn't going to allow someone at work to manipulate what I wanted to do on set. So any image that you see out there is one that I wanted to take."
The model explained that she doesn't participate in "vulgar" photoshoots. "Trust me: You will never see my vagina," she told the magazine.
Chan also asked Graham about an experience she describes in her book, when an 18-year-old boy assaulted a 10-year-old Graham by asking her to "grab his erection."
"The insecure girl inside me was like, 'Well, maybe I did something,'" Graham told Glamour of the incident. "To all those girls out there: No, you didn't do anything."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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