Ashley Graham is the first “plus-size” model to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and she’s not taking her new platform lightly.
Graham revealed that she hopes her cover will help young women of all shapes and sizes realize they’re beautiful, no matter what society has previously told them.
“I am hopefully going to change the lives of so many different young women. So many young women who have been told that their cellulite is ugly, that their inner things that jiggle and touch are ugly,” Graham told E! News in a recent interview. “Because I have all those things and I’m on the cover of Sports Illustrated, so they must be beautiful.”
Graham posted her Sports Illustrated cover on Instagram with the caption, “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.”
This huge accomplishment is a long time coming for the 28-year-old model. Graham had her fair share of struggles on her rise to the top.
“I had agents tell me, ‘You’ll never be on the cover of magazines. You’ll never be an editorial model,'” she told E! News. “I had agents wave money in my face and say, ‘If you drop some pounds, you can have a lot more of this!’ And not even that was something that encouraged me to lose weight!”
Graham underlined another important life lesson for young girls, and pretty much everyone, during this interview at the issue’s debut party.
“The moment I realized I had to be healthy and happy in who I was, that’s when my career took off,” she said.
Preach, girl! Once you truly love yourself, that’s when everything else in your life falls into place.
The model’s confidence is evident in her Sports Illustrated photos and this new interview. Graham owns her power and we love that.
“I killed it in Turks and Caicos and that’s why I’m on the cover,” Graham said.
Graham says she hasn’t always been so self-assured, but she did learn to love herself thanks to her mom.
“My mother had instilled a lot of confidence in me. She had said, ‘You are bold, you are brilliant and you are beautiful.’ And those are things that I had to tell myself again after I had gained weight in a very unhealthy way and I’m really proud of the woman that I’ve become,” she said. “Quote unquote ‘flaws’ and all.”