Model Ashley Graham's brand is confidence. In just the past year, she's landed accolades such as being the first plus-size model on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and Maxim, and became one of the first plus-size women to land a gig as a video vixen for a hot young band.
Because of these achievements, there's a lot of pressure on Graham as a woman who is a size 14 in an industry that is still effectively trying to shut out women who look like her. So what's the real key to being so confident about your body while breaking down these barriers in an industry that notoriously only embraces one beauty ideal? In a new interview with Elle Canada, she revealed that the answer involves coming back down to reality.
"Of course, I look at my body and think 'Oh, I want to tighten up my arms a bit, or I wish my ass was lifted higher.' But nobody has the perfect body," Graham said. "There's no such thing."
And Graham is right. Since the "perfect body" would have to conform to one beauty ideal in particular, it just doesn't exist. Across the world, and even across America, every person has a different definition of perfection. Rather than worry about it, she decides to just live.
There were headlines just a few weeks back about Graham proudly showing off her cellulite, but that wasn't even the model posting a picture for the purpose of saying, "Look at my cellulite and then look at me being a confident woman" for the sake of clicks. It was her existing as Ashley Graham.
"You know what's so funny? I think women think I'm inspirational because I'm unapologetic," Graham said. "I have cellulite. I have back fat. I've got a thick stomach. But I work my body like I don't because I don't know any other body. I don't know how to feel thin. I just know how to feel like Ashley."
In her interview with Elle Canada, Graham also reveals how she stopped letting people like modeling agents define her future, and effectively put her own confidence in her own hands.
"I started telling myself all the things my mother had told me — 'You're bold, you're brilliant, you're beautiful' — and I gained my confidence back," Graham said. "I got rid of the negative people in my life, I started going to the gym and I met my husband, who I've now been married to for six years."
As a trailblazing model, she's proud to take part in this revolution of women loving how they look right now.
"There's such a diversity thing happening now between age, body type, race and gender — it's huge," Graham said. "I'm so excited to be part of this story. We had the Cindy Era, the Kate Era and now this is the Body Era."
And as one of the original members of this so-called "Body Era," Graham only hopes that the movement spreads, and spreads farther than fashion as well.
"I'm excited about how things are literally changing right in front of me, but there's still a really long way to go," Graham said. "I want to see women my size on the runway. I want to see multiple women my size in movies and on TV. I mean, maybe I'll become a cinematic, dramatic, gorgeous lead!"
With Graham leading the way, we're sure that'll come sooner, rather than later.