The supermodel shared her struggles dealing with past flames who'd break up with her for fear that she might become "too fat."
Ashley Graham, 29, is happily married and enjoying a successful career, but the runway to supermodel status wasn't always a glitzy one. It was paved with a lot of tears and heartache.
When Graham hears accounts of young women dealing with bullying and body-shaming, she can relate. She's been there.
At the Urban Arts Partnership 25th anniversary benefit, she opened up about dealing with her own hardships.
"Nothing’s actually surprised me. I’ve lived exactly what they’re living. I’ve lived the torment of the names. I’ve lived the torment of boyfriends breaking up with me because they were afraid I was going to be too fat later in life,” Graham said.
“It’s the same cycle, it doesn’t matter what generation we are in. Every kid is going to go through the same thing.”
Not every day begins with confidence. "I wake up sometimes and I think, 'I'm the fattest woman alive.' But it's really about how you handle it when you wake up."
She encourages taking a different perspective when it comes to body image, and she embraces the relationship she has with herself. "I look in the mirror and I have my affirmations. And mine are simple. [I say,] 'You are bold. You are brilliant and you are beautiful.' And then if my lower pooch is really puffing out that day, I say, 'Lower pooch, you are cute.' And we have a moment. And if the hips are really popping I say, 'I love you too, hips.'"
At the end of the day, the Lincoln, Nebraska native knows that most women experience the same thought process regarding their bodies. "You can eat a whole bowl of pasta and then you can go and do a lingerie shoot the next day, and I say to myself, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ I am just like any other woman and I think I am the ‘fattest woman alive’ — but it is really about how you handle your situation."
Graham is now happily married to her husband of seven years, Justin Ervin. Now, all those jerks from Graham's past are probably regretting breaking her heart.
The curvy role-model industry is fast becoming a growing presence with models which Graham hopes will inspire a younger generation to embrace the concept of self-love.
The body activist remains hopeful for the future. "Having more role models, more women who are like ‘Yea, I have cellulite. Yea, it’s even on my arms, not just my legs. My butt is a really bizarre shape but you know what, whatever, I’m just going to go rock it.’ I think if we had more role models like that that, that were really just speaking their truth about their body and the skin that they’re in then maybe young America would be different."
Graham became a trailblazer with her beauty and confidence in 2016 when she became the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Get to know more about Ashley Graham in this video clip from British Vogue on the next page.