When looking at 31-year-old American model Ashley Graham, most see a beautiful woman that exudes confidence and class. Indeed, Graham now thinks of herself as a woman with inner strength. However, it took her years to reach this point.
The model recently sat down for an interview at the Create & Cultivate conference in Brooklyn, New York. She opened up about her journey with self-confidence and how she found her own self worth, according to NBC News.
Today, Graham uses her modeling and social media platforms to promote body positivity regardless of size. While she is healthy and fit, she doesn’t possess the super skinny figure that fans often see on Instagram or on the covers of magazines. Because of her body type, Graham spent a major part of her early life feeling uncomfortable in her skin. As she was embarking on her modeling career she was told many times to lose weight and to change various aspects of her physical appearance.
She’d moved from her home state of Nebraska to New York in hopes of being discovered as a model when she was just 17-years-old. After being told she was not skinny enough time and time again, she became discouraged.
“There was a moment when I was 18 years old and I said: ‘I can’t do this anymore’. I can’t have anyone telling me to lose weight. I can’t have anyone telling me: ‘You’re too this, you’re too that, you can’t have a personality, you’re a model, don’t talk.’ And I called my mom and I was like: ‘I can’t do this. I’m done. I want to come back to Nebraska.'”
It was then her mother taught her a positive mantra to recite in an effort to remind her of her self worth.
“You are fine, you are brilliant, and you are beautiful and bold,” the mantra stated.
Graham begin reciting the words to herself before daunting events in her career. After a while, she began to finally believe it deep down. Once she recognized that she was enough just exactly as she was, her whole perspective on life changed. She had a newfound courage and strength.
While she still repeats the mantra from time to time now, she is no longer reciting it out of necessity.
“[The mantra] is fun now because it’s in me. But back then, before it was in me, it was necessary … because I didn’t believe it. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know why I was worthy to have anything I had.”