Ashley Graham is “disrupting the [fashion] industry,” and believes the boundaries she’s breaking by being a successful plus-size model have “been a long time coming.”
“I’ve been considered a plus-size model for the last 15 years,” Graham, 27, said Tuesday at the Forbes "Under 30 Summit" in Philadelphia, a conference for young entrepreneurs and game-changers. “I’ve really been trying to chop down this tree for so long, and now finally people are hearing me.”
The model hopes her accomplishments show women that even if they do not wear a size 0, there is nothing wrong with how they look.
“I’m using my body to let other women know that imperfections are okay, that cellulite, rolls, curves, all of it, things that jiggle that ‘shouldn’t be jiggling’ are okay,” she said.
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Graham actually credits her detractors for her success.
“I think what really helped me was a lot of people telling me no, because I’ve always kind of been a little bit of a rebel,” she said on the panel, which also included activist Barbara Bush and Arcade Fire’s Marika Shaw. “My parents have told me no, I’ve had agents tell me no, and I’ve taken all those nos and I’ve turned them into yeses, and I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do.”
In fact, early in her career she heard from just about everyone that modeling for mainstream publications was an unlikely prospect for her.
“I was told I was never going to be on the cover of any magazine, let alone on the inside, and I did five covers alone last year, and I was in the pages of Sports Illustrated as one of the first curvy models,” she said. “I didn’t let anybody just take [me] down. I think that’s something that’s important about being a disrupter in any industry.”