When most women turn on the television screen or open a magazine, the images reflected back at them don’t typically look like them. Luckily, the entertainment and fashion industries are changing. In recent years, supermodel Ashley Graham has come through like a wrecking ball, breaking down boundaries and dismissing stereotypes having to do with traditional standards of beauty.
From Vogue Magazine covers to runway shows, Graham has been the stunning body positive inspiration that all women of various shapes, sizes, and backgrounds can look up to.
Changing the industryGraham is starting a revolution. | Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Glamour
Graham isn’t interested in only being a positive inspiration for women; she’s ready to turn the industry on its head.
The 2016 Glamour Woman of the Year told the magazine, “I’m really trying to make a change in the industry. I’m trying to have more quality clothing for curvy women. A lot of it [isn’t available] in my size.”
Next: Ignoring what’s popular
Skipping the trendsShe won’t allow her acceptance to be called “a trend.” | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
The Revlon spokesmodel is adamant about movements and not moments. For Graham, the only way to make sure things continue to change for the better is to continually discuss the issues that plague women when it comes to body image and a lack of diversity.
In an interview with Well+Good, she explained, “You have to continue to talk about it. I have always believed that skin color is not a trend, age is not a trend, and my size is not a trend. And that’s why I believe that right now, this can’t be a trend—if our voices are heard loud and clear, it won’t be.”
Next: Affirming yourself
Your own kind of beautifulInspiring other women is only the beginning. | Cindy Ord/Getty Images for #ImNoAngel Cacique Exclusively For Lane Bryant
While Graham and other curve models like Tess Holiday, Tabria Majors, and Gabi Fresh are working tirelessly to change fashion for a new generation of women, it’s also important for women and girls to be positive forces for themselves.
Graham explained to Glamour, “I hope they look in the mirror and say, ‘I am beautiful.’ When you do that, it’s a whole other ball game—you start to understand that your words have power. Be your own woman. Be your own kind of role model. And remember that the women around you are women you can lift up. You can change their lives.”
Next: Earning the recognition
Dismissing tokenismGraham has been on the scene for years — and she’s not going anywhere. | JP Yim/Getty Images
Though Graham is just now getting the recognition she so deserves, the America’s Next Top Model judge has been modeling since she was a teenager. As a result, she’s done with tokenism.
She told Well+Good, “It’s enough with celebrating the new girl, because she’s not the new girl—she’s been around the block and then some. Now you’re just deciding to let her in your campaign.”
Next: Birthday suits
Getting nakedGraham is comfortable in her own skin. | Ashley Graham via Instagram
Most of us aren’t exactly thrilled when we catch a glimpse of our naked bodies in the mirror. However, Graham has learned to embrace her birthday suit.
The swimsuit designer told The Telegraph, “Not every woman is like this, not every model is like this, but I’m a special case in that I would walk around butt-naked if I could, because it’s just more comfortable for me.”
Graham also told Maxim that she and her husband enjoy walking around at home in the buff because it keeps their relationship “fresh.”
Next: Healthy bodies and souls
Healthy AFShe loves to work out — but it’s not about losing weight. | Ashley Graham via Instagram
Women are always told that they need to lose weight. Whether it’s explicitly said by a family member or partner, or subtly hinted at through ad campaigns or magazines, there’s a constant message that smaller bodies are better or healthier, which isn’t the case.
Graham is adamant about staying healthy, but she could care less about losing weight. She told Vogue,
I love doing circuit training and weightlifting. And I really love boxing—I go to Gleason’s boxing gym with Don. Then I also have this other woman that I work with, Morit [Summers]. She’s fantastic—a fellow curvy girl who just gets it. I’m the kind of person who needs someone telling me what to do, otherwise, I go run on the treadmill for 10 minutes, and I’m like, “Whew, that was such a good workout!”
Next: Ignoring the labels
Forget the plus-sizeGraham is sick of this persistent label. | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated
The majority of women in America wear clothing with double-digit sizes on the tags, and yet, they are still being called “plus-size.” Graham is urging us all to drop the labels. Instead, she wants women to ban together.
I just feel like, look, we’re here, and if you want to call us “plus-size,” fine, but I’m so over it. There are a lot of women who want to still be called that, and I get it; I also get going into a store and not knowing where your section is, and it all being jammed up by the 4s and the 6s. But I also feel like grouping women all together just because of a number inside of their pants is so divisive. Why do we have to do that? I think that this is the time and the place to really stand up for each other, to fight for each other—not to make it about one thing to divide [women], but to make [this moment] something that unites us.
Follow Aramide on Twitter @midnightrami.
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