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Exclusive: Ashley Graham Talks Babies, Body Love, & the ‘Bookmarks’ That Keep Her Marriage on Track

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Model, entrepreneur, and mom Ashley Graham knows a thing or two about diapers … or, more precisely, a thing or three. She’s raising three kids under three years old, after all: Isaac, born in 2020, and twins Malachi and Roman, born almost exactly a year later in 2021, with husband Justin Ervin. Needless to say, Graham is in the up-to-her-elbows stage of parenthood, which is why her recent partnership with diaper brand Coterie was a natural fit. Graham sat down with SheKnows for an exclusive chat about her babies, her body, her marriage — and, of course, diapers.

Coterie
1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All right

She may be a spokesperson for Coterie, but like the rest of us, Graham is also a mom who has field-tested numerous diaper brands under real-life conditions: namely blowouts, ripped tabs, rashes, and every other unpleasant diaper “surprise” that parents deal with on the regular. “I’ve tried every diaper on the market,” Graham says. She swears that Coterie is the clear winner, which makes it easy for Graham to give the diaper brand a shining — and honest — endorsement.

With three kids concurrently in the baby-and-toddler stages, Graham has her work cut out for her, but she thoroughly enjoys watching her sons’ distinct personalities develop. The twins, she says, are shaping up to be as different as night and day; though Roman is currently ahead of his twin in size (and number of teeth — he has six to Malachi’s two), Malachi is stronger and faster. “Roman is very laid back and Malachi is, like, scrappy and wants to be in everybody’s business.”

As for Isaac, he takes his older sibling duties very seriously. “He just loves being a big brother,” Graham says. “And I think that he understands the responsibilities that come with it to a certain degree, and he definitely leans into it.”

Graham has never been shy about keeping it real when it comes to motherhood in all its facets — the good, the bad, and the ugly. From postpartum body changes to formula-shaming to those mom-moments so sweet they bring tears to your eyes (“You get so mushy and ridiculous!” she laughs), she has been notoriously transparent about her first couple of years of life as a new mom. Naturally, as much as she adores motherhood and her trio of tiny humans, Graham admits she’s familiar with that very-relatable feeling of parental overwhelm. Her solution? Own it, ask for help, and take a breather when you can.

“I straight up say, ‘You know what? I feel overwhelmed,'” Graham says, adding that she goes for a walk and has “a nice chat” with herself. “I just say, ‘Mommy’s taking a break.'” She credits the unwavering support of her husband and mother for giving her the ability to do this, even though she can’t always just drop everything and head out at a moment’s notice (“Sometimes it’s hard to do it in the moment and chaos,” she acknowledges). But the head-clearing impact of a few minutes away can work wonders, as any parent knows.

Though Graham has been a beacon of body positivity for new moms and non-moms alike, she confesses that on many days, it’s an issue she still struggles with. “I remind myself that I have three little kids,” she says of her coping techniques. “You know, my body changed so quickly … like, it’s not going to just go back.” Her advice to other moms who might also be struggling to come to terms with their changed bodies? Give yourself grace.

“You just had a child … or two, or three,” she says. “Where you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be.”

Coterie/Ashley Graham

Another aspect of life that can take a hit with a baby (or three!) in the house is your romantic partnership, and Graham’s approach to connecting with her husband Justin is nothing short of brilliant. While their very busy lives don’t always make it possible to have lengthy conversations during the day, their “bookmark” system opens up those communication pathways when they do find a few moments to chat.

“[W]e do a thing called bookmarks, where we send ourselves like an asterisk with a word. And at the end of the day, every day, we go back to our bookmarks, and we say, ‘Okay, what was that story? What was that thing you wanted to talk about?'” It’s a nightly ritual that Graham says helps keep them connected even when juggling work and family gets chaotic.

Motherhood, especially in the first few years, can throw your entire identity for a loop — in sometimes-surprising ways. For Graham, the biggest surprise was how much she changed. “I have become a lot softer, much more patient and forgiving not only of others, but of myself,” she says. “I’m much more forgiving of the mistakes that I make.”

It’s not difficult to be soft, though, when you’re basking in those tender moments that make every trial feel 100% worthwhile.

“We were snuggling last night watching a movie. And I was spooning [Isaac] and I was scratching his back and like rubbing his little leg and he goes, ‘Yes Mommy, I love you. God bless you,'” Graham gushes. “And my heart! I just sunk into the couch. It’s a love fest.”

These celebrity parents are on double duty!

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