Ashley Ann Graham (Ashley Graham) was born on October 30, 1987, in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has become one of the most popular American models, especially for women who consider themselves ”plus-sized.” She is known for her body confidence and a movement for portraying “real beauty.” Real beauty references what real women’s bodies look like rather than the current standards today, for example being skinny and blonde. Graham has gained major popularity and has been on the cover of Vogue and Sports Illustrated, making history becoming the first curvy model to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

  1. Early Life
  2. Career
  3. Body Image Activist
  4. Response


  1. Early Life

Ashley Graham was raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her father was a database maker while her mother was a stay-at-home mom. In addition, she has two younger sisters. At an early age of 10 years old, she opens up about developing breasts in fourth grade and how she was looked at by adults and inappropriate way. Around this age an 18-year-old friend took her and molested her. Ashley has self-proclaimed “daddy issues” that took a toll on her sexual health and self esteem. She sought to get that male attention from other men and she flirted with them just to get some affection in return. Graham later on moved to New York to begin her modeling career, after living there for some time she met a man named Carlos. This man was Dominican and was a web designer; he would violently assault her, chase her with a butcher knife, and even throw things at her. She was in this violet relationship a year and hid it from all her close family and friends. She says she stayed in that relationship because she found that affection and validation from him. She also thought that she was “too fat to find anything better.”

  1. Career

Graham’s career started at the age of 12, in which she was discovered in a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska by an international model agency in 1999. Later that year she signed her first modeling contract, subsequently moving on to signing with Wilhelmina models in 2001. In October 2009 she appeared in Glamour magazine’s These Bodies are Beautiful at Every Size Long with other plus-size models. What made Ashley Graham a world famous supermodel was that she was the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Besides modeling Graham has appeared in many fashion campaigns for example for Target, Macy’s, Levi’s and Nordstrom.

  1. Body Image Activist

Graham admitted that she never felt comfortable with her own body and she wanted to give up her modeling career because of that. The reason she kept on modeling was because of her mother. Her mother told her that her body was the reason she could change people’s lives. She took the advice her mother gave her and made a change in the way she looked at herself. She began to post selfies of herself with hashtags like #beautybeyondsize. With is women began to follow her and what she stood up for. Her fan base grew quickly and today she has more than 2.6 million followers on all her social media platforms. Companies like Levi’s and Calvin Klein reached out to her to use that platform to let all women know that they are beautiful no matter what size you are. Her followers followed her because she is beautiful and mainly they way she carries herself and her confiendence. So far now she has given body image and body acceptance speeches to high school all over the world.

  1. Response

Graham has such an inspiring life story that can be looked upon for inspiration. Not only that but a great way to appreciate what you have and flaunt in because you are beautiful any size, any color, and any gender. You should love the way you are no matter what the standards of today are because you are you, you choose whether or not the standards of today affect the way you look at yourself but don’t let that make you look at yourself as not enough.

Marilyn Velasquez is currently a junior at Old Dominion University majoring in fashion merchandising graduating in the Fall of 2018. She is a very creative person and shopping is one of her favorite things to do, even though she knows she shouldn’t. She loves fashion because it gives you the chance to express yourself through clothes which made her choose her major. Besides fashion, she is a big coffee lover.