Body positive advocate and model Ashley Graham is a champion and supporter for every woman. The new mum consistently pushes historical boundaries about what real women look like, portraying every inch of herself - 'flaws' and all - online (and often butt naked) for the world to see.
The 33-year-old's refreshingly honest take on what it means to be a woman - talking stretch marks, cellulite, bouncing back after a baby, and redefining modern beauty standards - has made Ashley a force to be reckoned with.
Although the Nebraska-born star may have made her name walking the runway as a plus-sized model, she now wants to redefine the term, instead preferring to just be called "a woman," she tells the WSJ Magazine.
"I hate that I constantly have to discuss my body, because I don't know any man that has to do that," Ashley says. "But what motivates me to continue to talk about my body is that I didn't have someone talking about their body when I was young."
Ashley, who is mum to one-year-old Issac with husband Justin Ervin, went on to detail how the lack of representation in the industry keeps her motivated to be so transparent and real on Instagram.
"This is why I don't post like the 'perfect' Instagram photos," she says. "I keep it real and raw constantly because I want [people] to know that there are women with cellulite, with back fat, with stretch marks. There are a lot of curvy women, plus-size women, fat women, whatever you want to call them."
Let's just take one quick second to praise this lady and her fight to normalise women's bodies, shall we?
In the interview, Ashley Graham went on to reflect on the early days of her career when her agents constantly told her that if she didn't lose weight she wouldn't get booked. "My self-esteem plummeted," she told the magazine. But it was this defining 'aha' moment that shaped the course of the model's career. "The lowest part of realising that I didn't get a job because I was 'too fat' actually gave me the courage and the ambition to go and fill a void in an industry."
Being her own champion and using her voice to make people sit up, take notice and listen has helped propel Ashley to the forefront of the industry. She was the first size US 14 model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2007 and on the cover of American Vogue.
Ever since, it's been her fight to portray and normalise real women's issues that has become her guiding light. Case in point: her thoughts on 'bouncing back' after pregnancy. "I am a full-fledged 16. I haven't been a full-fledged 16 since I got married," Ashley recently said.
"I have like 25 pounds on me that I still have from before I was pregnant. I don't know one person that actually lost weight in quarantine. So then to go and try to lose baby weight in quarantine is an epic fail."
It's this realness on social media which has become her calling card, and it seems that's Ashley's ongoing goal. "I really feel like in so many ways my career and what I’m doing is to change an industry forever," she said.
Amen to that.
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