Ashley Graham: ‘Little Girls Need To Know Perfection Doesn’t Exist’

Ashley Graham may be one of the most recognizable plus size models in the fashion industry at the moment, partly for her high profile stance against body shaming and promoting more diverse attitudes towards society’s definition of beauty. For that reason, it seemed only natural that Graham should be invited to be a guest on a show whose very name is synonymous with activism of all sorts. Robin Roberts asked Ashley to appear on her show, Game Changers, a request that Ashley met with enthusiasm, seeing a new opportunity to spread her message of hope to girls and young women.

Game Changers Host Robin Roberts Welcomes Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham, Game Changers
Ashley Graham talks about facing adversity in her struggle to achieve modeling success on 'Game Changers.' Image by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.

Reporting on Graham’s appearance on Roberts’ ABC News special, which aired tonight, KVNU shares that Ashley struggled from a very young age, both with her weight and with her modeling dreams. Because she never fell into the standard body shape for the modeling type, Graham says she was always told to forget her dreams. She says people were always telling her to be more realistic and that she would never be the kind of girl who gets modeling jobs.

Ms. Graham told Game Changers viewers that she pursued her dream in spite of the criticism, only to become featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for their swimsuit edition, followed by a number of other prominent modeling jobs. Ashley has also started her own fashion house, catering to plus size women, and was one of Glamour’s 2016 Women of the Year.

Most recently, Graham has served as the inspiration for a new plus size Barbie doll, an honor she would only accept if her vision of the doll was met.

“It was really important for me to have touching thighs because little girls need to know that perfection doesn’t exist,” Ashley told Robin Roberts.

Game Changers audiences received a greater insight into Ashley’s struggles when the model told Robin that leaving Lincoln, Nebraska for New York City wasn’t the giant leap to success she had anticipated. Ms. Graham said that, while she was getting steady modeling gigs, she was repeatedly told to lose 20 to 30 pounds.

“I call my mom and I just broke down. I was like, ‘I can’t do it anymore. This is not for me.'”

Ms. Graham then revealed that her mom gave her the kick in the pants she needed.

“If you aren’t changing your life, fine,” Ashley’s mother told her. “But your body is supposed to change somebody else’s life.”

British Vogue Helped Ashley Graham Break Barriers

Ashley Graham, British Vogue
Ashley Graham is proud to break barriers with her 'British Vogue' cover. Image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

While Ashley has appeared on many magazine covers, E! News reports that the plus size fashion model and America’s Next Top Model judge is still breaking barriers, just for posing for new magazine covers. Take her cover photo for British Vogue, which appears in the January issue. This is the first time British Vogue has featured a model above a size 12 for their magazine.

Even more impressive is that British Vogue features Graham without attaching the “plus size” label to her spot in the magazine. As far as that magazine is concerned, Ashley Graham is a model, nothing more and nothing less.

“The most rewarding part about the honor of being British Vogue‘s January cover girl is knowing how many lives we are changing,” Graham says.

Is being an outspoken advocate for “beauty beyond size,” as Graham phrases it, worth it? She thinks so. Ashley reveals that she has been getting virtual piles of fan mail from women from all parts of the world. Because Ashley Graham and other models have become so outspoken about body shaming, Graham says these women now feel more visible.

“That’s why this barrier-breaking cover means so much to me,” Graham continued. “Not just because I get to see myself gracing this British Vogue cover, but for all the women who have heard ‘no’ all of their life. This is a triumph for us all, and a beautiful demonstration of how we used our voices to create change, because loving ourselves at every size and shape is not a crime, it’s a right.”

[Featured Image by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images]