Ashley Graham Shared Life Lessons About Body Image and Gratitude That She Learned from Her Mom
In a video for Instagram's new #takeabreak series, the supermodel talked about how grateful she feels to spend time with her mom during the coronavirus quarantine.
"I’ve been reflecting on what she’s taught me and what I’m going to be teaching my son," Graham shared before listing six valuable lessons her mom has taught her that have helped her become the person she is today.
To start, Graham said that her mother taught her to lead by example. "The way you lead your life means more than just what you tell your kids," she shared in the video. "If you tell them to be nice to others, they better see you being nice to others."
For Graham, the most important example her mom set was that she never criticized her body, she said. "Instead she embraced her 'flaws' and never even identified them as flaws," she continued. "She talked about her strong legs, her strong arms, and made me appreciate my strong legs and my strong arms, even to this day."
ICYDK, there was a time in Graham's career when she wanted to quit modeling because of the negative comments she was receiving about her body. In a 2017 interview with V Magazine, the model told Tracee Ellis Ross that it was her mother who convinced her to stick it out and fight for her dreams. (Related: Ashley Graham Says She Felt Like an "Outsider" In the Modeling World)
"I was disgusted with myself and told my mom I was coming home," Graham said at the time, referring to her early days in New York City. "And she told me, 'No, you're not, because you told me that this was what you wanted and I know you're supposed to do this. It doesn't matter what you think about your body, because your body is supposed to change somebody's life.' To this day that sticks with me because I'm here today and I feel that it's okay to have cellulite." (Related: The Empowering Mantra Ashley Graham Uses to Feel Like a Badass)
Today, you know Graham as someone who's not only confident, but who's also learned to ignore people's opinions, and that's in part because of her contagious positivity—another valuable lesson her mother taught her, she said.
Continuing in her video, Graham shared that her mom taught her to find happiness in any situation—a lesson that's been especially helpful amid the coronavirus pandemic, explained Graham. Even when Graham feels anxious, she tries her best to "stay positive and calm" around her baby son, Isaac, "because those ears are still listening," she said.
Graham has been open about the power of positive affirmations in her life before, sharing how important it is to practice self-love and appreciation. (BTW, science says positive thinking really works; it can even help you stick to healthy habits.)
Next, Graham credited her mom for teaching her the value of a good work ethic (procrastination is a big no-no, she added) and the importance of giving back. The model also noted that supporting someone or a cause you care about doesn't have to involve traditional charity or volunteering. In fact, these days, it can be much simpler than that, explained Graham.
"Right now, giving back might just mean staying at home for those who can't," she said, alluding to social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, and the fact that essential workers don't have the luxury of staying home. (Graham is one of many celebrities who's participated in the #IStayHomeFor challenge on Instagram to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.)
The final lesson Graham said she learned from her mom: gratitude. "My mom always taught me to look around and be grateful for what we did have and not what we didn’t have," Graham said in her video. "And that can mean anything like being grateful for your health or being in quarantine still surrounded by people that you love." (The benefits of gratitude are legit—here's how to get the most out of your gratitude practice.)
In the caption of her video post, Graham shared another reminder to continue practicing social distancing—not just as a way to help slow the spread of COVID-19, but also as a way to express gratitude "for those who are working tirelessly to keep us going," including essential workers like health-care professionals, grocery store workers, mail carriers, and so many more.