Her title may be “supermodel,” but Ashley Graham’s work doesn’t stop at the end of the runway.
When she’s not walking in fashion shows for designers like Michael Kors or gracing the covers of Sports Illustrated and Vogue, Graham is using her platform to advocate for body positivity and size-inclusive fashion. For years she has used social media to share Photoshop-free pics and encourage women to love themselves at all sizes, eschewing the old-school notion that only thin is beautiful. This fall she spoke up about the startling lack of body diversity on the runways of New York Fashion Week, calling out designers that failed to be inclusive.
“It’s sad,” said Graham. “It’s funny to me, because I’ll look at runways and think, ‘I’d look so great in those clothes’ or ‘I know curvy women who would look so great in those clothes.’ ”
Graham took her activism to the next level in 2017 with the release of her book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty and Power Really Look Like. The illustrated memoir chronicles Graham’s personal path to body positivity while offering women advice and support on their own journeys to self-love. The book also tackles issues beyond body acceptance when Graham openly discusses her experiences in an interracial relationship and the challenge of confronting racism within her own family.
This year, Graham continued to open up about important issues on social media. She posted publicly about the insensitive messages she received after sharing her workouts, and she reminded her followers that fitness comes in all sizes: “I don’t workout to lose weight or my curves, because I love the skin I’m in,” she wrote in the post.
Graham has also continued to blaze the trail for women of all sizes by designing her own collection of swimsuits, featuring gorgeous bikinis, monokinis and one-piece suits in sizes six to 22. Mattel even took note of Graham’s powerful message of body positivity, honoring her this year with her own lookalike Barbie, designed proportionally to Graham’s measurements. Get it, girl!
This piece is part of our new project “Year in Women.” Check out all the women featured:
(Photo by Rick Kern/Getty)