Jason Hetherington
Gabrielle Olya
August 12, 2015 02:50 PM

Plus-size model Ashley Graham loves her body – including its "rolls, curves [and] cellulite" – but she didn’t always feel that way.

Graham, 27, opened up about how she learned to love herself while speaking to a group of girls at the Pocono Trails Summer Camp, a weight-loss camp that focuses on improving self-esteem.

The model recalled moving to New York and gaining 20 lbs., and hating her own reflection.

“You are so ugly, you are so fat, this is disgusting,” she used to tell herself, according to Yahoo! Style. “It was pretty gross. And it hit me one day; I said, ‘What am I doing? My mom didn t raise me like this. My aunt did not raise me like this.’ ”

So Graham decided to share a different message with herself while looking in the mirror: “I am beautiful, and I do have a great body.”

Meet Ashley Graham, the First Plus-Size Model to Be Featured in the SI Swimsuit Issue

The change in attitude didn’t come immediately, but Graham kept repeating the affirmations.

“I didn’t believe it for the first few months, but I read in a book that if I actually looked myself in the mirror and said it and meant it every day, it was going to happen,” she said. “I started loving my body, I started working out, and taking care of myself.”

Soon, she was able to truly love herself.

“I didn’t trick myself; I told myself, ‘This is changing, you are beautiful, you are worth it,’ ” said Graham. “No man, no job, no friend is going to tell me who I am – I am going to tell me who I am.”

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