How Ashley Graham Learned to Ignore Everyone's Opinions of Her Body
She opened up about her body being "treated as a thing" in the modeling industry.
Ashley Graham is known for being a gorgeous, relatable woman with boundless confidence. But for years, the model felt that the fashion industry told her what to think about her body and that her perspective wasn't important.
"My body has always been treated as a thing and not mine. You're the sexy girl. You're the naked girl. Men are going to idolize your hourglass figure," Graham recently told Allure.
However, as the years passed, Graham's career skyrocketed and the tables turned. She stopped letting people objectify her body, and she no longer allowed others' opinions to define her, she explained.
"It was always about what others thought about my body until I gained a voice," she said. "Now I get to tell people what I think of my body."
Graham has been paving the way for women of all shapes and sizes in the fashion industry ever since she graced the cover of Sport's Illustrated three years ago. It's no secret that people see her as a trailblazer who proved that diversity and inclusion do belong in the modeling world. But she's urging fans to see the bigger picture: The work doesn't end with only a few women being at the forefront of change. (Find out why Ashley Graham has a problem with the "plus-size" label.)
"I have never looked at tokenism as a bad thing, as long as the brand, the client—whoever has the mission—continues to branch out and say, 'This was our first time; next time we're going to add more of the race, the gender, the sexuality, the religion, the disability,' whatever it is," she said.
Graham seems to recognize that fashion brands have come a long way. But true representation happens when diversity is considered "not just through the advertisement, but internally," among the company's employees and executives, Graham explained. In other words, brands cannot be considered diverse if they're only showing the world how inclusive they are. Groundbreaking structural changes must also be made behind closed doors. (Related: Ashley Graham Says She Felt Like an "Outsider" In the Modeling World)
"Stop talking about hiring [diverse candidates] and just do it," said Graham. "You can't just check the box and be like, 'Oh, we did it.'"
Despite the work that still needs to be done regarding representation, Graham is grateful to be in the modeling world, and the platform it gives her to make a difference.
"Now, as a model, you have a voice; you have a brain; they want to hear what your platform is and what you stand for," she said, adding that she's used her career to inspire other ladies, as her own businesses are made up entirely of women.
"I'm proud of it," she said. "I feel like a boss when I walk in—it's me and my girls. I imagine the beginning of Entourage: We're walking in slow motion; everyone's hair is blowing. It's like, 'We're here to own this sh*t.'"