There’s no better feeling that posing for a photo, expecting to hate it, and thinking, “you know what — I look pretty good”.
“Plus-size” model Ashley Graham had one of those moments last week when her hairstylist took a photo of her backstage while filming America’s Next Top Model.
Wearing a white crop top, skirt and a Balmain jacket, Graham felt “Damn good”.
“I didn’t give it a second thought when I posted it, but soon the image went viral,” she wrote in Lenny Letter.
“Not because of how good I looked wearing a high-end designer that doesn’t usually market to women my size, but because of people’s misguided views on women’s bodies and who owns the rights to them.”
The size-14 model’s photo was inundated with comments shaming her for allegedly looking “skinnier” than normal.
“You don’t love the skin you’re in, you want to conform to Hollywood, you believe being skinnier is prettier,” read one. Another said: “You used to be a role model and I looked up to you.”
Watch: Christine Anu on body image. Post continues after video.
Like any celebrity, Graham is well aware of the toxicity that can be found in the comments section, but says she feels passionate about listening to her followers.
“I know the comments won’t all be positive. I’m a confident woman with thick skin, and as a model in the public eye, I’m conditioned to accept criticism. But last week, I admit that I had a tougher time brushing off the haters,” she said in her Lenny Letter piece.
Yes, after repeated criticism for being “plus size“, the 28-year-old now finds herself being shamed for the total opposite. (Post continues after gallery.)
She can’t win. “Knowing my angles is one thing, but I must be a magician to make people think I went from a size 14 to a size six in a week! The reality is I haven’t lost a pound this year,” she continued.
“In fact, I’m actually heavier than I was three years ago, but I accept my body as it is today.”
The sad thing is Graham shouldn’t have to defend her body to anyone. Yet that doesn’t stop people — and sadly a large proportion are women — from tearing her down.
“To some I’m too curvy. To others I’m too tall, too busty, too loud, and, now, too small — too much, but at the same time not enough,” she wrote.
“When I post a photo from a ‘good angle’, I receive criticism for looking smaller and selling out. When I post photos showing my cellulite, stretch marks, and rolls, I’m accused of promoting obesity. The cycle of body-shaming needs to end. I’m over it.”
My thighs are so sexy they can’t stop rubbing each other! ????by Me!! Available at @swimsuitsforall ????See more on my snapchat #beautybeyondsize #shakewhatyourmamagaveya A video posted by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@theashleygraham) on Jul 10, 2016 at 1:16pm PDT
Body shaming isn’t restricted to people of a certain clothing size, it’s any person telling another person the way they look is wrong.
Graham has become a “pin up” girl for curvy women, technically a “plus size” model because she’s bigger than a size eight, according to industry definition. Whether she’s a size 18 or size 14 (her current size), she believes that the number is irrelevant to the message of body positivity she’s so passionate about.
“I am more than my measurements. I’m not Ashley Graham just because I’m curvy. For the past 16 years, my body has been picked apart, manipulated, and controlled by others who don’t understand it. But now my career has given me a platform to use my voice to make a difference,” she wrote. (Post continues after gallery.)
“We can’t create change until we recognise and check our own actions. If you see another woman taking a selfie or a photo in her bathing suit, encourage her because she actually feels beautiful, don’t give her the side eye because you think she’s feeling herself too hard. Why waste time and energy spewing negativity? Let’s worry about our own bodies. My body is MY body. I’ll call the shots.”
What do you think of her Lenny Letter piece?