Not long ago the New-York Times ran a special Fashion Production dedicated to Ashley Graham, the Super model and leading Body Activist. The project had a special feature: a Hologram of Mrs. Graham, doing her fabulous "cat walk". Graham was filmed by as many as one hundred video cameras, covering every inch of her body, and the clip was published as is, with no Photoshop modifications what so ever. The result, as so many other works by the 31 year old beauty icon, is simply stunning.
Before Fashion Week, the model and activist @ashleygraham spoke with us about the power of depicting female bodies as they really are — without doctoring their form https://t.co/OwLCJ6XbZ0 pic.twitter.com/p9ubGH7XLC
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 5, 2018
The editors of the Fashion section in the NYT made it clear that the "holo-Graham" is not just any other production, but a declaration, as it fits so well with the message that has become a synonym for Ashley Graham: women should love their body, with no shame or doubt, no hiding around, and no "corrections", "fixing" or "Photoshoping" parts of the female body that society regards as flawed.
Maybe we should mention that Graham is considered by many as a "Plus Size" model. Graham, so it seems, couldn't care less about her "definition". While the Plus Size definition is used for body regimentation (bear in mind that the "Plus" describes women far from being out of the "normal"), for Graham it became a useful tool for her self-promotion: she was the first "Plus Size" model to feature on the front cover of the "Sports Illustrated" Swimsuit edition, in 2016.
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Truly speechless!!! This cover is for every woman who felt like she wasn't beautiful enough because of her size. You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to. Thank you so much to the entire @si_swimsuit team! I'm so excited to be a part of your family. I love you all!!! #siswim #beautybeyondsize
Graham has since channeled that front cover achievement (which is equivalent to an Oscar Academy award, for a model) and gained world wide publicity and fame. In doing so, she also brushed off the "Plus Size" ticket. In her public interviews she says that there is no question she dislikes more than "what do you think of the term 'Plus Size'?" (See below).
Graham is so much more than a pretty face and a stunning body. Her strong and inspiring personality is represented well through her popular social media accounts (more than 7.5 Million people follow her Instagram account), and she makes plenty of public appearances, including many interviews, and has her share of commercial campaigns.
Grahams' public persona is of a very self-confident young women, with a mind of her own and a clear vocation, incredibly sexy and with a great sense of humor – she loughs a lot, and loughs at herself at that. She is clearly not ashamed of her sexuality, her body, her thoughts, nor is she embarrassed by her mistakes or what some people would consider as her "flaws".
In a viral Instagram post, so out of the ordinary for the perfectly styled photographs usually shown on the social media platform, Graham uploaded a close up of her cellulite on her thighs. "I workout", the super model wrote, "I do my best to eat well. And I'm not ashamed of a few lumps, bumps or cellulite… and you shouldn't be either", and added the hashtags "beauty beyond size" and "love the skin you're in".
Graham attached a message about the way she sees her mission in life to an artistic series of photographs, taken while Graham is in full nudity.
"I think I hit bottom around 18, I was disgusted with myself and told my mom I was coming home. And she told me, 'No, you’re not, because you told me that this was what you wanted and I know you’re supposed to do this. It doesn’t matter what you think about your body, because your body is supposed to change somebody’s life.'"
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Love the skin you're in. I discussed body love with @traceeellisross in this latest issue of @vmagazine ・・・ "I think I hit bottom around 18. I was disgusted with myself and told my mom I was coming home. And she told me, 'No, you’re not, because you told me that this was what you wanted and I know you’re supposed to do this. It doesn’t matter what you think about your body, because your body is supposed to change somebody’s life.'" @theashleygraham bares all to @traceeellisross in the link in our bio. Photographed by @mario_sorrenti, styled by @georgecortina for #V107, on stands now.
In another clip she uploaded to Instagram she is not shy to pat on her own behind, emphasizing the vibrations trembling through her thighs, not as "expected" from a model. "This is a true expression of self love" she wrote.
Another example of the way Graham sneers at what is expected of a super model is seen in her posts where she can be seen – lo and behold – Eating! A year ago she uploaded a picture of herself "living the dream", eating Pizza, Pasta and enjoying a glass of red wine.
Graham also seems to be a pretty good marketing lady and business woman. She has managed to pack the Feminist agenda, together with women empowerment and self-love messages into a successful line of Swimsuits (which she has helped design, so she says). The all size, big as small, line of Swimsuits gets a lot of exposure through Grahams' Instagram account, where she also took on the age gap and stigma about the loss of femininity by elder women – some of her swimsuits are shown on display by her mother.
Maybe it goes without saying – but Graham gets her share of abuse. When the NYT twitted her special fashion production, the cruel and ugly reactions where quick to appear: Men and women were not ashamed to call her "obese" or "fat", which just comes to show that even when you're a super model some people will always have something to say, and will try to diminish you.
Other critics of Graham claim that she has reached a special position – enabling her to voice herself and interfere before her image is retouched by Photoshop, but she doesn't refrain from this practice altogether, thus becoming part of the oppressing industry. Others have wondered whether Graham isn't just replacing one beauty model by another, just as unreachable and disappointing for most mortals as the former.
It seems that Graham just doesn't give a damn about the ugly slandering, and with the more intelligent criticism she deals with courage. Graham has become a judge on "Americas Next Top Model" TV Reality show, along side with the legendary Tyra Banks, and the theme of Diversity is current on her appearances. In 2017 she published a book – "A New Model" – sharing her experience and thoughts about the future of beauty and modelling. According to Graham, Diversity is to be the new "Normal" in years to come.
But it would be safe to presume that Graham gets at least some of her power to tackle her critics from her enthusiastic fans. Turning to her Instagram account once more, one can find there thousands of responses and messages from women of all ages. "When I was down", one fan wrote, "feeling lousy about my body, I turned to here. I don't know why, it just helped me feel better about myself".
Graham is obviously not planning to slow down on her meteoric rise to fame, nor is she satisfied by her title as a super model. Graham is a Body Activist, an advocate for a positive reflection of all women and beauty models. After reaching every height possible in the world of beauty, Graham is clearly planning to conquer the world, and change for the good. We will be closely watching, that's for sure.