In her book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, Graham says the 18-year-old son of her parents’ friends forced her to touch his erection while they were drying off in her laundry room after swimming in the pool. She says she was frightened after the interaction and fled from the room, but that the episode “left me with so many lingering questions.”
Graham also wrote candidly about growing up with a verbally abusive father. While she faced criticism for her weight from modeling agents, the comments stung much more when coming from her dad. Graham recounts a time when she told her parents an agent at Ford Models told her to “tighten up,” and her father responded without any sympathy, telling her that maybe she should lose weight. The conversation left her shaken, and she says she ended up crying in the backseat of a taxi.
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Graham also revealed that she began experimenting with cocaine and Ecstasy when she moved to New York City to pursue modeling because she wanted to be “popular.”
During her second year living in New York, Graham’s use of drugs and alcohol almost led her to be fired from her modeling agency after she missed a flight to a job after drinking all night the night before. While her agent accepted her apology, Graham saw this moment as a turning point.
“I hit bottom,” she writes.
While she admits she didn’t stop drinking and partying for good, she did learn how to be more in control and hasn’t missed a flight since.
Despite her setbacks, Graham has gone on to be the first curvy model featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, landed on the cover of Vogue, judged America’s Next Top Model and continues to be an outspoken body positive advocate.