Ashley Graham is making history as Sports Illustrated‘s first plus-sized cover model, but that doesn’t mean she’s not taking any heat over her appearance.
Graham’s is one of three diverse covers featured in this year’s iconic Swimsuit issue, and she wants everyone to know that every inch of those gorgeous curves is 100 percent her.
“They [Sports Illustrated editors] did not retouch me,” she told Access Hollywood. “They did not take out things. They didn’t reshape my body in any way, shape or form.”
“I think what’s happening is more women who probably didn’t even think to pick up the issue are actually going to say, ‘Wow, I’m being represented here today. I’m gong to take this, look through it and hopefully be empowered,'” she added.
Graham also explained that she really objects to the term “plus size” as a comparison to other models.
“I hate a label,” she said. “I think that when we introduce Hailey [Clauson, another cover model], we don’t say, ‘This is skinny girl Hailey, and this is plus-size Ashley,'” she explained. “We’re both models. At the end of the day, I just want to be recognized as a model. Yes, I got curves. Yes, I got things that I like to flaunt and talk about and be called curvy, sexilicious, but at the end of the day I don’t want a label.”
Graham said she is pleasantly shocked that SI chose her for their famed cover.
“I knew the fact that I was going to be in the pages of Sports Illustrated was going to be a huge deal, just because the fact that I’m a size 14-16 sexy lady, but to actually be on the cover, I didn’t think that Sports Illustrated was going to take that risk,” she said. “But right now what they are doing is they are setting the standard for what everybody else — magazines, designers, people in Hollywood, should be doing.”
Graham shared the cover, and her palpable excitement over it, on her Instagram page.
“Truly speechless!!!” she wrote. “This cover is for every woman who felt like she wasn’t beautiful enough because of her size. You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to. Thank you so much to the entire @si_swimsuit team! I’m so excited to be a part of your family. I love you all!!! #siswim #beautybeyondsize.”