Model Ashley Graham: I Love My Rolls, Curves and Cellulite

"The fashion industry may persist to label me as plus size, but I like to think of it as my size," Graham said during a recent TEDxBerkleeValencia talk

Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty

She broke the mold by becoming the first plus-size model to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and now Ashley Graham is inspiring others to do the same.

The model and lingerie designer spoke to a sold-out audience of 450 people in Valencia, Spain, in April during an inspirational TEDxBerkleeValencia talk.

Graham, 27, explained that she once struggled with body insecurity but now fully embraces her figure.

“I felt free once I realized I was never going to fit the mold that society wanted me to fit in,” she said. “I was never going to be perfect enough for an industry that defines perfection from the outside and that’s okay. Rolls, curves, cellulite, all of it – I love every part of me.”

She also spoke out against the use of the term “plus-size.”

“The fashion industry may persist to label me as ‘plus-size,’ but I like to think of it as ‘my size,'” said Graham. “Curvy models are becoming more and more vocal about the isolating nature of the term ‘plus-size.’ We are calling ourselves what we want to be called – women, with shapes that are our own.”

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

“I believe that beauty is beyond size,” she continued, adding that as a society we need to “work together to redefine the global vision of beauty.”

Graham spoke about facing criticism for her body, both from her peers and people within the industry who doubted she could ever be successful.

“My body, like my confidence, has been picked apart, manipulated, and controlled by others who didn’t necessarily understand it,” the Nebraska native said. “I had to learn to reclaim my body as my own, and in reclaiming my body as my own, I understood as a woman that I had a greater purpose to redefine feminine beauty.”

She believes that doing so is actually quite possible.

“This is the generation of body diversity,” Graham concluded. “The current is changing.”

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