Ashley Graham has had an enormous amount of success as a model, much more than pretty much every model of a similar size who’s tried to make an impact before her. She’s been on the cover of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Sports Illustrated (among many other publications), fronted campaigns for the likes of Levi’s, written a book about her life (A New Model), done public speaking and been a lingerie designer, collaborating with Addition Elle. But one of her most treasured accomplishments is being a body activist. As the face of body diversity in modeling right now, she has no problem sharing her issues with the ways in which the female form is seen and discussed. She reminded us of that in a new interview with Gayle King for CBS’ Sunday Morning.
The 30-year-old said that being labeled a plus-size model, or woman in general, isn’t as black and white as simply putting people in a category. Instead, such a label creates not only hostility, but also fosters negative stereotypes of women who don’t fit a certain mold.
“I think the word ‘plus-size’ is so divisive to women,” she told King. “I think that when you use the word ‘plus-size’ you’re putting all these women into a category: ‘You don’t eat well.’ ‘You don’t work out.’ ‘You could care less about your body.’ ‘You’re insecure.’ ‘You have no confidence.’”
“And that is none of this,” she continued, pointing to her well-known figure.
It’s this particular struggle in the modeling industry, among many others, that actually pushes Graham to tell other women to run from the idea of trying to get where she is when they seek out her advice.
“And I say to them, ‘Why would you want to become a model? Why would you want to be picked apart all the time? Why don’t you go be the editor?‘” she said. “Why not just strive to be, like, Anna Wintour? Or why not be a designer and tell models what to do all day!”
Ah, if only it was that easy.
Graham’s full interview with King for Sunday Morning is set to air on Sunday, December 3.