“Stand up for curves. Confidence is sexy.” is a tagline straight from her website. Gosh, I love her.
You guys have heard about her before on the blog – but it’s finally time to do a post on one of my biggest inspirations in the body image movement – Ashley Graham.
I was first introduced to her when she became the first ever plus size model to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition – and I’ve honestly been hooked ever since. I watched a couple of videos of her on Instagram after all the news started hitting about her, and she was so confident in her own skin it was contagious.
Ashley was signed to an international modeling agency at the young age of 13, and has been killing it from the beginning. But since I’ve been introduced, she’s pretty much hit the ground running, with magazine covers and features on the regular (in Shape, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and more), being named to Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30,” and even having her own fashion line (okay, there’s so much more, but these are some highlights).
This past week, Ashley was recognized at Glamour’s Women of the Year awards for “instantly bringing size acceptance into the mainstream with just one (fabulous) photo,” which references her Sports Illustrated cover. In her acceptance speech, she tells girls and women everywhere: “I let my body hold me back for so long. Don’t let your body hold you back. Don’t let your body insecurities hold you back from doing anything that you want to do.” Preach, girl.
While at the awards on Monday, Graham was presented with a custom barbie doll that was modeled specifically after her. But this Barbie doll came with curves – as Graham’s number one request was that the doll’s thighs touched (ha, I love her so much).
Mattel’s Barbie brand, the ones that created the doll, had already expanded the Barbie squad with curvy, petite, and tall body types last year – but this custom Ashley Graham doll is just another step in the right direction. And Graham’s public effort to make girls and women everywhere feel good about themselves, no matter their size, is a force to be reckoned with.
As all celebrities have dealt with, Ashley’s been criticized on both ends of the spectrum – from “promoting obesity” to “selling out and becoming too thin.” But through it all, Ashley has stayed true to herself, and ladies, that’s all we can do.
In a world sometimes filled with disrespect, judgement and anger, it’s important that we all channel our inner Ashley Graham. A woman that stands by her body and herself – empowers other women to do the same – and embodies the term f*** the haters, Ashley’s message applies to us all.
And to me, it doesn’t just apply to our bodies, but it applies to our jobs, our relationships, literally everything. Never be ashamed of who you are – and don’t ever change who you are for the sake of others. Be true to yourself, love yourself, and you’ll find your way in this absolutely crazy world (just like Ashley has).
And Ashley, just a heads up, this won’t be the last time I obsess over you on the blog 😉 ❤
Photo credit: Allan Slank