ELLE Exclusive: Ashley Graham Talks Oprah, Beauty Stereotypes And The Power Of #MeToo

Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty


Weeks after discussing the sexual abuse allegations against photographer Terry Richardson, Ashley Graham has now spoken to ELLE UK about the power of #MeToo and #TimesUp to change the course of history for women.

The 30-year-old model reveals she's inspired by the thousands of brave women taking action to reclaim their bodies from those that that have, for too long, used and abused them.

Speaking of the movement's pioneers, such as Reese Witherspoon, Issa Rae and Rose McGowan, the Nebraska-born star said: 'These women are creating change and making men more sensitive to how they treating and speaking to women. But it's also giving women a sense of power to take ownership and control over their bodies.

'Oprah's speech at the Golden Globes really spoke to me – I cried. It thought it was incredible.'

Photo credit: Revlon
Photo credit: Revlon

January 2018 has been a month of politically charged testimonies from women, as well as vociferous attacks on the a system which has enabled abuse of various kinds. The fight for equality, diversity and better representation has mounted to tsunami-like proportions.

Having faced undue criticism about her body from social media trolls, model agents and fashion-industry insiders, the model admits she's glad to see women finally enjoying a shift in power.

'I think we're on a really great track right now. People are standing up and talking about the issues happening in their industries,' she says.

Following recent allegations of sexual assault levied against Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Mario Testino, Graham says she'd like to see 'not just celebrity women talking about their issues, but women in their own communities'.

'The women who haven't had a voice, the women who have been pushed down and can't stand up...I hope these are the women who have a voice at the end of this year and can actually say #MeToo,' she adds.

Earlier this week, Graham - who was a November ELLE cover star - was named as one-of-four ground-breaking Revlon Global Ambassadors chosen to represent the brand's new campaign, 'Live Boldly'.

Discussing the lack of diversity in the fashion and beauty industry, the model reveals she hopes her new role at Revlon is a beacon of inspiration for her fans, teaching them that one size of beauty doesn't fit all.

'I want to be a role model for all those young girls who want someone to look up to, because I didn't have that when I was younger; women who looked like me, had stretch marks and insecurities.

'That's what's really most important – that young women and men see someone who looks like them so they can know that they too are beautiful so they don't have the same issues [with seeing diversity] I had growing up.'

Of course, unrealistic beauty standards isn't a new problem, as Graham knows all too well following years of rejection from model bookers due to her size. But, the model isn't alone in facing these kind of unfair critiques.

Just earlier this week, Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams spoke of the difficulty in finding acting roles because of her belief that she's typically 'unsexy'.

For Graham, the time for change is now.