Ashley Graham made history as the first curve model to cover the magazine's iconic Swimsuit Issue in 2016

By Hanna Flanagan
April 10, 2020 11:10 AM
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When Ashley Graham became the first size-16 model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s coveted Swimsuit Edition in 2016, she was celebrated for being a trailblazer of the body positive movement — but not everyone in the fashion industry was supportive.

During an appearance on Thursday’s episode of Naomi Campbell’s YouTube livestream series, No Filter with Naomi, the 32-year-old star revealed that, at the time, a fellow model said she was too “large” to appear on the iconic cover.

“You know what, Naomi, actually it was right after that [Sports Illustrated] cover that I met you,” Graham recalls. “It was at the CFDA’s and we were walking onto a red carpet.”

“We had just had a quick conversation because there was another model who was so upset that I had gotten the cover and she said I was very large and that women my size should not be on the cover,” she continued.

“Who said that?” the Making the Cut judge, 60, responded.

“You can go look it up…she was before your generation,” Graham hinted.

Ashley Graham for Sports Illustrated
Yu Tsai

“She said that in public?!” Campbell asked, in disbelief. “Oh! I know who it is. It’s a model before me?”

The Pretty Big Deal host then confirmed that the shady comment came from an older model whose name starts with the letter “C.” Though she never revealed her full name, Graham implied that Campbell would know exactly who she was talking about.

“You can go look it up,” she joked. “You told me, ‘I just want to let you know that I was talking about you and I defended you.’ First of all, I’m meeting Naomi Campbell for the first time and she just defended me. Heart is racing! Thank you!”

James Macari/Sports Illustrated

Campbell sweetly replied: “Well, I’ll defend you again right now because I don’t think that person had the right to say that. It’s your time now.”

The model who Graham is likely referring to is former SI Swimsuit vet Cheryl Tiegs, who voiced her opinions on Graham’s cover back in 2016.

“I don’t think it’s healthy,” Tiegs told E! News at the time. “Her face is beautiful, beautiful. But I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run.”

Tiegs fueled controversy even more when she said she felt that the rise of full-figured models was problematic because of the message it sends.

“I don’t like it that we’re talking about full-figured women because we’re glamorizing them, and your waist should be smaller than 35 [inches]. That’s what Dr. Oz said and I’m sticking to it.”

Although only a few episodes of the YouTube series have aired — Campbell launched it earlier this week while cooped up inside amid the coronavirus pandemic — plenty of tea has already been spilled. From Cindy Crawford to Marc Jacobs, the iconic supermodel has already invited several of her high-profile friends to talk about their glamorous careers and dish on all things fashion during the daily live streams.

On Monday, Campbell even told Crawford about the time she surprised Prince William for his birthday as a teenager.

Naomi/YouTube

“I went with [fellow ’90s supermodels] Claudia [Schiffer] and Christy [Turlington],” Campbell said during the No Filter with Naomi live chat. “And he was coming home from school. And we had gotten there before he had gotten home from school and Princess Diana was like, ‘Okay.’ So we were just like, ‘What do we do?’ I mean, it was so sweet.”

While Campbell said she visited Prince William when he was around 13 or 14, Crawford, 54, said she visited him at Kensington Palace as well a few years later.

“Did he blush when you met him?” Campbell asked. “I think he was 16 when I met him,” Crawford replied.

Crawford continued: “I don’t remember but look I was blushing. I was so intimidated meeting Princess Diana and being at Kensington Palace and just how completely down-to-earth she was because there’s so much protocol I guess, and not being English, I don’t understand some of it.”