ASHLEY GRAHAM: So much to learn from this SUPERMODEL
Most of us have grown up listening to empowering quotes such as “All body shapes and sizes are beautiful”, but do we truly live and breathe by this notion? The media and society have misused their power over the years to promote a false sense of beauty; seeping insecurities about our bodies irreverently. “Oh, I’m feeling bloated”, “I am fat and ugly”, “Aren’t my hips too huge?” ladies, we need to stop this horrifying self-loathing and start loving ourselves.
Beauties, in your own right, your bodies are a temple, which needs to be worshipped and given the best love and care. Ultimately, you are known for your intelligent and adorable personality, rather than these ridiculous body ideals. And one stalwart who endorses and embraces her curves like no other is the first plus-size supermodel- Ashley Graham. As an afterthought, are these terms, “plus-size” or “size zero”, justifiable, nonetheless, objectifying women and belittling their worth to a few absurd body ideals? Hell no!
A terrific inspiration to women all around, this thunderbolt of a woman squashed the stereotypes and emerged victorious on the other side, simply by believing in her capabilities. To understand what truly makes her, her- the sassy, incredible advocate of women’s true achievements, let’s traverse through her fantabulous journey!
THE RISE TO FAME OF ASHLEY GRAHAM
Now, now! There is more than meets the eye, and in the case of the model, Ashley Graham, this definitely holds true. Having started a revolutionary movement by herself to advocate diversity, she is also a revered social media influencer, motivational speaker and astute entrepreneur. Her life’s mission is to uplift women, and help them accept themselves as is. Isn’t this extremely noble?
Born in Nebraska, USA in 1987, she literally has a trip to the shopping mall to thank for her gregarious career. At the age of 12 years, she was discovered by a modelling firm called the I & I Agency during one such excursion. Sounds like a scene right out of a movie, doesn’t it? Kick-starting her career, she signed up with prestigious modelling agencies in 2001.
Early on, she started getting featured in publications such as YM Magazine and the A-listed Vogue for which she was profiled by their then creative director, Sally Singer. Furthermore, she appeared on the October 2009 issue of Glamour editorial, titled, “These Bodies are Beautiful at Every Size”, along with other talented plus-size models such as Kate Dillon Levin, Amy Lemons and Crystal Lenn. Well, well! Doesn’t this clearly show us that back in those days too, there were some fiery women out there who inculcating body positivity? Atta girl!
From dodging the tag of controversy’s favourite child to becoming a high fashion favourite, this effervescent boss woman has walked for several international designers such as Prabal Gurung, Michael Kors, Dolce and Gabbana, H&M and Tommy Hilfiger amongst others. By 2010, she was the go-to choice for all things exuding style; be it appearing in an editorial for the Bust Magazine or starring in several Levi’s campaigns, primarily the Curve ID SS 2011 where she shared the stage with noteworthy personalities such as Sabina Karlsson and Marquita Ping. Soon enough, she was roped in for esteemed campaigns such as the Boyfriend Collection F/W 10 and the Miranda Rinaldi 2012 creations. From Bloomingdale’s and Nordstorm to Target amid many other labels, they were all swayed by her mystical aura and presence. Ending 2012 with a glorious bang, she was bequeathed the title of Full Figured Fashion Week’s Model of the Year. Didn’t she just deserve these stupendous accolades coming her way? After all, she is the first Supermodel to flaunt clothing bearing tags of Sizes 14 and 16 with full panache.
Expanding her career path, Graham designed a lingerie line for Addition Elle, a Canadian Plus-Size clothing retailer in 2013. With tremendous luck, talent and self-confidence on her side, she further made an appearance on MTV’s ‘Made’ to coach aspiring heavily built models. Clearly, she opened up avenues for thousands of dreamers and how! Replete with her chirpy personality, there really was no pulling back for this amazing soul, with Harper’s Bazaar and Elle Quebec covering her in 2014.
The real icing on the cake was the #CurvesInBikinis swimsuit campaign she graced in collaboration with the Sports Illustrated’s annual issue. Apart from serving as a backstage host for Miss USA and Miss Universe from the years 2016-2018, she broke all records and misconceptions when she was officiated as a judge of the reality show America’s Next Top Model.
Showcasing her experiences and acceptance in her career trajectory, she penned a book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like in 2018. This memoir further focuses on the evolution of body years in succeeding years to come.
WEIGHTY WOES OR NOT
As millenials, we’d probably obsess and stress over our weighty woes or slight bulges. But that’s not the case with this one-in-million rockstar. For someone oozing with confidence, did you dearies know that she too has gone on various fad-like diets to get rid of those kilos? In fact, as someone who has always endorsed the fit, not fat body image, she was met with criticism from her fans galore, when she lost oodles of weight a few years back. In an eye-turning moment for one and all, isn’t it just wonderful to see how one person’s actions can have an impact on thousand of others, becoming their source of hope and optimism? A role model for many, she defies the Zeitgeist- defining ‘plus-size’ term as it isn’t inclusive at all. With the spunk and looks combined of Hollywood icons such as Cindy Crawford, Eva Mendez (omg yes!) and Joan Holloway, she keeps flaunting her curves and fl(abs) through her Insta posts, being completely authentic with her fans.
While she went on a rigorous diet and workout regime earlier, she gained 50lbs during her pregnancy in 2019. In a heartening interview, she admitted, “I don’t care, I have never felt better, and I am so thankful that my body and son have allowed me to be as mobile and flexible as I have been.” As fellow women, we fully appreciate her candour. As food for thought, do we women put unwarranted pressure on ourselves to look a certain way to match an unreasonable fantasy? As a life-altering experience of housing, another life inside your womb for 9 months is an incredulously unfathomable feeling. Further propagating her self-acceptance to another level, which was evident from her heart-warming bare it all photoshoot with her newborn baby, it is her ingenuity that beaconed her to star in two extremely special music videos.
In fact, using her body as her biggest asset, she started using it as a tool to talk about several “taboo subjects such as cellulite or being insecure about lower belly fat—and also [how to] talk life into your body and have an affirmatively disposed conversation with yourself.”
Encouraging mirror exercises or positive body talk, her biggest reason to keep hustling is the messages she receives from gorgeous women- young girls and adults whose lives she has deeply touched. Isn’t this just supremely gratifying? A regular speaker at Ted Talks on self-acceptance, we absolutely love her sass and attitude, “Back fat, I see you popping over my bra today. But that’s all right. I’m gonna choose to love you.” Guys, each and all our lives are more than worth it!
PERSONAL LIFE OF ASHLEY GRAHAM - her husband ‘Just Ervin’ and more
With an enlivened, hilarious zest about her life, this wondrous soul is truly loved by many. Meeting her now-husband, acclaimed videographer, JUST ERVIN in a church in 2009, cupid struck immediately. After a year of dating and hearts filled with love, they got married. In an interview, the supermodel sadly admitted that her interracial relationship was frowned upon by her family at first as her husband is Black. Recalling their first experience, she shudders to relive this embarrassing and futile moment, when her own folks were propagating racism.
But, all’s well that ends well, and today, this oh-so-charming couple are parents to a one-year-old baby boy named ISAAC.
A star in her own right, according to a recent report, Ashley Graham’s net worth totals to $12 million, thanks to her multiple jobs.
To sign off, doesn’t this incredible biography remind us of an inspirational quote by the yesteryear legend, Marilyn Monroe, “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” Always remember, an ‘I love you’ always starts with an ‘I’. Don’t we love this marvellous soul, Ashley Graham because she has owned herself completely? Time we take a lesson or two from her book, what say darlings?