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Ashley Graham becomes Sports Illustrated‘s first ‘plus-size’ cover girl

Ashley Graham was the fist “plus-size” model featured in the pages of Sports Illustrated’s iconic swimsuit issue last year when an add featuring her ran in last year’s issue. This year, she’s one of the cover girls. It’s making waves for obvious reasons, but is it really that big a deal?

SI is best known for picking women who appeal to men because they look healthy and curvaceous. Kate Upton, for instance,  is gorgeous, but is she really some kind of waif? Sister has curves for days. And we love her for it. Graham is size 16, it’s true. But she’s also just stunning. I mean look at this:

Ashley Graham
Image: Sports Illustrated

Stunning, right?

Don’t get me wrong. I get the politics here. So many women (myself included) are made to feel badly about our bodies by women who look like Kate Moss defining beauty for the rest of us. It’s difficult and painful and as a very curvy girl who grew up in the 1990’s, I get it. But the thing is, Ashley Graham is still impossibly beautiful. It is absolutely progress to have someone who isn’t skinny on the cover of an iconic magazine, but she still looks better than 99.9 percent of the world’s population.

Maybe that is what bothers so much. She is being celebrated, not for how gorgeous she is, but for how much progress this creates. It’s true. But it’s also true that she is just a beauty in her own right. Any curvy woman can tell you that while “waif” might be the name of the game in modelling, in real life men have always preferred a little booty and boob action.

More: The real message behind Ashley Graham’s beach body ad

Of course, it’s not all about what men want. But the truth is, we ladies base a lot of our sense of self worth on what men think of our bodies. It’s silly and maybe shallow, too. But it’s the truth. And men want Ashley Graham. She’s like Cindy Crawford and Anna Nicole Smith had a child. She’s luscious and beautiful and I don’t say that in a pandering “isn’t that special that they let a not-so-hot woman on the cover.” I say that in a “wow, she’s as smoking as any other cover girl they have ever had.”

That’s the bottom line. This isn’t some special favor. This isn’t some politically correct nod to bodies of all sizes. She is beautiful. She is stunning. There is no ‘plus size’ about it. Let’s just be happy we are moving into an age where we recognize beauty comes in many different kind of packages.

More: Bloggers challenge Protein World ad by stripping down in London train station

Ashley Graham is a smokeshow no matter what you want to call her. End of story.

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