Ashley Graham at Variety's Power of Women event

Ashley Graham Says Family Rejected Her Black Husband: ‘I Naively Hoped Everyone Would Be Colorblind’

Ashley Graham’s family loves her husband, Justin Ervin now, but an excerpt of her memoir, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, published by Glamour reveals that this was not always the case. Though their family is totally okay with her husband of seven years, they rejected him in the beginning because he was Black.

After years of unfulfilling relationships, Ashley met Justin Ervin at a new church she had joined. According to her, things got off to a rocky start, after he didn’t offer to pay for her meal on their first date.

“The day arrived, and we had a great time—until the check came,” Ashley said. “I went to the bathroom, and when I returned the check was still resting on the table with his half on top. “Here you go,” he said, handing me the bill. ”

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I paid my share of the $5.25 and thought, This is the last date.

It wasn’t their last date though. Justin was persistent, in emailing and calling her. Eventually, they talked about his decision to not pay for her meal. Apparently, Justin had been burned by too many women who had used him for money, and he wanted to be certain that she wasn’t using him as well.

“And just like that, I had my first experience of what it meant to communicate with a man. It was profound; all I wanted to do was keep talking to Justin. The consistency and openness was so new it felt weird. I told him this all the time: ‘You’re weird.'”

Four months in, Justin asked Ashley to be his girlfriend. Things were great–until it was time for Justin to meet Ashley’s family. The Sports Illustrated model then shared that she didn’t grow up around many Black people.

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“The sum total of what I learned about African-American culture in school was Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the Underground Railroad,” wrote Graham. “This was more than my mom knew; she didn’t even see a black person in real life until she was 18 years old.”

“I naively hoped everyone would be color-blind, which is not what happened,” she continued.

“When my grandparents met Justin, my grandmother was cordial but cold. She greeted him and immediately walked away. When it came time for them to leave, my grandparents didn’t even acknowledge him. Instead my grandmother looked me in the eye, with Justin standing behind me, and said, ‘Tell that guy I said goodbye.'”

The plus sized model goes on to say that she was shocked by her family’s cold reaction. So how did Ashely’s family finally accept Justin? Apparently, all it took was a little love.

Instead of Justin responding in kind, he put his pride aside and made a sincere effort to show them who he was.

“Justin called my grandmother on her sixtieth wedding anniversary,” Ashley said. ” He’s not a texter or an emailer; he’s a pick-up-the-phone-and-call-you ­person, and anniversaries are a big deal to him. Afterward, Grandma called my mom and said, “You’ll never guess who called me.” And from then on out, she loved him. Loved him.”

It’s good to know that Ashleys’ family was finally able to accept her husband, Justin, though it’s a little disheartening to know that in 2017, this was even an issue in the first place.

That said, Ashley’s obviously got her happy ending.

“Thanks to Justin’s constant communication, I envisioned a marriage that was more than just two people loving each other,” she said. “And now we have that marriage: a partnership dedicated to building something bigger than ourselves.”

What do you think of Ashley Graham’s confession? Do you think that her family regrets how they treated her husband upon first meeting him? You can sound off in the comment section below.

[Featured Image By Mike Coppola/Getty Images]