Model Ashley Graham Said She Loves Her Cellulite In A TED Talk…& It Was Awesome!


How often do you look in your mirror and tell yourself how damn beautiful and awesome you are? If you answered “not much”, you wouldn’t be alone. Which is why when plus size supermodel Ashley Graham began her TEDxTalk walking up to a floor-length mirror telling herself how beautiful she thinks she is, it probably made some people feel uncomfortable.

In our opinion this is something each of us need to do every day. But if we believed the popular narrative in society, they’d have us believe our hair is brittle, our skin is dry, our weight isn’t satisfactory, the clothes we wear aren’t on trend, our legs aren’t shapely enough, etc. That’s consumerism, preying on the insecurities of generations and generations of women because it has proven to be a successful method of selling a product.

Thankfully there are brands like Dove who have been innovators in the advertising industry showing that empowering a woman to feel her best is the way forward.

In Ashley’s talk she touches on the topic of “plus size” categories and how she doesn’t want to be labeled anything but “my size”. As she was growing up in Nebraska starting her modeling career, whenever anyone asked what her job was she always felt she had to quantify what she did by categorizing her body.


“Back in Nebraska, I was known as the ‘fat model.’ The girl who was pretty for a big girl. I hated answering that question, ‘what do you do for a living?’ I would see that person’s eyebrow raise when I say ‘I’m a model.’ I would have to quickly qualify with, ‘Well, I’m a plus size model.'”

After years in the industry and many magazine covers (the ones that industry insiders told her she would never be able to get because of her appearance) she realized that no one else was going to be her champion, she had to be that for herself.

“My body, like my confidence, has been picked apart, manipulated, and controlled by others who didn’t necessarily understand it. Once I reclaimed ownership over my body, I discovered a greater purpose as a woman who was defying preconceived standards of feminine beauty,” she said.


Like most other plus size models who are regularly part of mainstream fashion news, Ashley wants to be a role model for a generation of girls promoting healthy at every size. There is this popular notion that if you are a size 22 model (like the fabulous Tess Holliday), you must be promoting bad health and obesity. Nope!

In an essay for The Edit back in January, Ashley says the issue isn’t about focusing on a woman’s health, but the fact that we need more diversity on the covers of magazines.

“I think that you can be healthy at any size and my goal is to help and educate women on that. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or 22, you can be healthy as long as you’re taking care of your body, working out, and telling yourself ‘I love you’ instead of taking in the negativity of beauty standards,” she said.


“We need role models for young girls who say, ‘Embrace your curves. Who cares that your body isn’t perfect?’ There’s too much anorexia, obesity and suicide in this generation and nobody is addressing the issue. Young girls don’t have much to look at, curvy women are not on covers of magazines, they’re not talked about on social media as much as other celebrities.”

There is this dangerous attitude within majority circles where diversity is supposedly seen as a good thing, but the minute a minority or a marginalized voice comes to the forefront of a discussion, people are too quick to clamp down and dissect how it is not fitting into the status quo. As a society we have to evolve in accepting ALL voices in discussions about body image and diversity. Continuing to blame plus size models for promoting obesity is just another way to deflect the real issue and continue to make women (who aren’t a size zero) feel like they don’t fit it.


Ashley’s message is to ignore any voice that tells you you are not ok the way you are.

“Never let anyone tell you you can’t…It is critical that both men and women create a body positive environment. Uplift the important women in your lives, create a safe space for them to express their beauty and feel comfortable embracing their bodies and who they are, not hiding them because of what they’re not,” she said.

“I felt free once I realized I was never going to fit in the mold that society wanted me to fit in. I’m never going to be perfect enough for an industry that defines perfection from the outside in….rolls, curves, cellulite—all of it. I love every part of me,” she added.

And we in turn love everything she has to say about body image!


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