Ashley Graham Embraces Her Stretch Marks in Swimsuits for All Shoot: 'This Is My New Mom Bod'
Supermodel, activist and new mom Ashley Graham has built her brand around body positivity and is often credited with giving size acceptance more visibility in the mainstream media.
So it’s no surprise that Graham is flaunting her post-baby curves and embracing her stretch marks in a campaign photographed by husband Justin Ervin in her home state of Nebraska, just six months after the couple welcomed son Isaac into the world on Jan. 18.
Speaking exclusively with PEOPLE, the supermodel opens up about modeling her new size inclusive swimwear line in collaboration with Swimsuits For All — which features bold prints, bright solids and sexy lace-up details in sizes 4-24 — and shares why she didn't Photoshop the final images.
"There's always a question of what do you want us to retouch, and what do you want us to take out? And I said, 'Nothing'," except from a clamp holding up the DIY backdrop," she tells PEOPLE. "I want everybody to know genuinely... I want people to see who I am because everybody has a story."
"A lot of women I speak to have image issues, body issues around confidence. I want them to understand that we all have things that society has told us to cover up and why do we need to do that? So here I am with mine out and about and proud," Graham says.
And Graham wants consumers to feel that the same sense of empowerment when they slip on a swimsuit from her new collection — each style was "thoughtfully constructed with stay-put fabric and no-quit elastic" to hug your curves in all the right places.
"The thing about working with Swimsuits For All is that I've always been able to design swimsuits that I want to wear and swimsuits that I'm really comfortable in," the new mom says. "Now with a new postpartum body, I thought that things were going to feel different, and that they were going to look different, and they do, but it's a new found joy in that."
As for the backyard aesthetic of the campaign, the American Beauty Star host says she and Ervin were inspired by photographer Kennedi Carter, who shared a photo from a similar shoot on Instagram earlier this month.
"It looks so simple and beautiful, but powerful," Graham explains. "I've got more weight on me. I've stretch marks, and in the beginning I really had to have a lot of conversations with myself and tell myself, 'Okay, new body, new mindset.' But after this photo shoot, I felt so empowered because I was like, 'Yes. I look good. I feel good. This is my new mom bod'."
Graham's Swimsuits For All campaign comes after Ervin shot her Harper's Bazaar UK cover on the same Nebraska family farm amid the coronavirus pandemic. "Justin and I were already in a rhythm of shooting together in quarantine" the supermodel says, adding that she's become accustomed to doing her own glam at this point.
While she's not sure when large-scale photoshoots and elaborate runway shows will return — Graham says she she has "no idea" what the fashion industry will look, post-pandemic — quarantine has been "such a blessing" for her in many ways.
"I feel like I've had more time with Isaac and [at] home than I ever would have had," she shares. "And that really is a silver lining for me."
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