- Ashley Graham confuses fans by modelling for Rag & Bone – a brand without plus-sizes
- Shape Created with Sketch. Plus size models changing the fashion industry
- Now, This Is a Supermodel
- Model Ashley Graham Has a Problem with the ‘Plus-Size’ Label
- Ashley Graham’s Plus-Size Denim Line Is All Kinds Of Edgy & Sexy
- Ashley Graham Fired Back at an Instagram Troll Who Called Her a ‘Fat Model’
- MORE: Why Ashley Graham’s Ex Dumped Her in High School
- MORE: Was Ashley Graham’s Butt Photoshopped In This “Sports Illustrated” Photo?
- Plus Size
- Plus Size vs. Curvy
- So, What is the Difference Between Plus Size and Curvy?
- Size 10 Is Curvy, Not Plus Size: 3 Ways Fashion Is Hurting Its Sales
- Why We Need To Eliminate “Curvy” From The Plus Size Vocabulary
Ashley Graham confuses fans by modelling for Rag & Bone – a brand without plus-sizes
Plus-size model Ashley Graham has confused fans by modelling for Rag & Bone – a clothing brand that doesn’t cater to plus-sized women.
Posting on Instagram, the American model shared a series of images and a video unveiling her latest collaboration with Rag & Bone for a DIY campaign called Ashley by Ashley.
Given that the New York brand traditionally only sell “straight” sizes, fans of the plus-size model, who wears a size 16, were delighted by the news that the iconic company was presumably extending its range.
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“Rag and Bone makes plus sized jeans? Take my money,” one person commented.
Another added: “Omg! Where are the plus size Rag and Bone jeans? Please say this is a collab and real life?”
However, upon closer inspection it seems that this may not be the case. As many fans pointed out, Ashley’s collection with the brand doesn’t appear to offer inclusive sizes.
On the Rag & Bone website there are two tops within the Ashley by Ashley collection, both of which are available in sizes XXS to L, which equates to a UK 4 to 14/16.
Meanwhile, the jeans go up to waist size 32, the same as a UK 14.
And, as one fan pointed out, their clothing is notorious for coming up small.
“So many questions. But first of all what size are you wearing? Because we all know Rag & Bone’s biggest size is 32 but fits like a 27, so are they going plus size now?” someone asked.
Shape Created with Sketch. Plus size models changing the fashion industry
Show all 9 left Created with Sketch. right Created with Sketch. Ashley Graham Getty Images
Dalbesio at New York Fashion Week
Ashley Graham Getty Images Tess Holliday Iskra Lawrence Candice Huffine Dalbesio at New York Fashion Week Sabina Karlsson Denise Bidot Barbie Ferreira
To add to the confusion, Graham recently criticised high-end brands like Rag & Bone for not being more inclusive.
Speaking to British Vogue about the collaboration she said: “The demand is there, especially for denim…there are many curvy women who are willing to spend money on quality, designer clothing, but often times they are not even given the opportunity because the sizes just don’t exist.
“I think some high-end brands might think they are devaluing their brand if they extend their sizes — maybe they think they will become less exclusive — which is just ridiculous.”
Using a plus-size model like Graham insinuates that the brand could be making steps to cater to plus-sized women, and despite some confusion it’s a move which has now been confirmed.
Speaking to The Independent, a spokesperson for Rag & Bone said: “We can confirm that we will be introducing a selection of our best sellers in extended sizes later this year.”
Now, This Is a Supermodel
Ashley Graham’s lifelong mission to lift women up has taken on ridiculous, corporeal form today. That form is me, clinging to her arm, trying not to die, as she takes me Rollerblading for maybe the third time in my life.
“I know you’re nervous. You can totally do this! I got you!” Graham cheers, and we’re off — the modeling world’s most inspiring success story and her human kettlebell, weaving through the cyclists and runners zooming by in both directions along Tribeca’s West Side bike path.
This summer, Graham, who is 29, is staying close to New York after several months in Los Angeles tossing off quips and handing out real talk as the breakout judge on the reboot of America’s Next Top Model. It’s a job that may make her a household name, and she’s overqualified for it. Less than two years ago, through some alchemy of beauty, luck, and sheer will, Graham became the first model with clothing tags bearing numbers like 14 and 16 to show off her glistening, spray-tanned curves on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. This March, she broke similar ground as the first model of her size to appear on the cover of Vogue in the magazine’s 125-year history — a one-two punch of commercial and high-fashion dominance that not even ANTM creator Tyra Banks in her heyday could claim. That’s not to mention the memoir, the lingerie line, the TEDx talk, and the fact that she’s fast becoming a millennial Oprah for body image (you get confidence, and you get confidence, and you get confidence!), all against a backdrop of some designers refusing to lend her clothes and internet haters lurking around every corner.
Graham seems to have erroneously come here thinking she was going to get a workout, dressed in leggings and a wicking top. (She’d just left the Dogpound, the preferred gym of Victoria’s Secret models.) Her blades, which she brought from home, are silver and lace-up with the pull of a single string, like one of Q’s demonstrations in a James Bond movie. Instead of blading fast, though, she’s graciously teaching me how to stay up.
“Now this is a bitch right here, the brick,” she says, showing me how to lift up my knees to get over uneven surfaces. Then she demonstrates the proper blading position, leaning forward, butt out, feet gliding. She looks like a swan.
Soon we figure out that holding hands is our most comfortable position. Graham loves imagining the thoughts of passersby who glimpse our intertwined fingers. “They’ll be like, Oh my God, those hot lesbos! They look like such a lovely couple!” Sure enough, we get an obligatory construction-worker catcall. Later, I will run into a lesbian friend and tell her about my day of Graham and Rollerblades and sweaty hand-holding. “Um,” she says, “you just described my entire sexual orientation.”
Coat from the Dolce & Gabbana fall 1991 archives. Bustier, shorts, and shoes by Dolce & Gabbana, at 717 Fifth Ave. Cappellino Millinery hat at cappellinomillinery.com. Photo: Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari
The term supermodel is pretty loosely bandied about, but it feels like it hasn’t been properly used since the early ’90s, in the days of Cindy, Naomi, Linda, Christy, Claudia. Men wanted to sleep with them. Women wanted to be them, or hang out with them, and also sometimes sleep with them. Global fashion houses wanted to dress them. Advertisers wanted to clone them.
That’s not to say that today’s crop of top models is devoid of fun personalities (Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, the Instagram powerhouses of Kendall Jenner and Gigi and Bella Hadid). Other models have ushered in new eras of modeling — the waif, the Brazilian babe — but none has embodied a shared mass-cultural moment quite so fully as the first supermodels. They were all over MTV and Rolling Stone, like rock stars. Social media has done much to bring back that sense of fashion-model ubiquity, but it doesn’t change the fact that the models snapping those Insta stories are the body-type equivalent of the one percent (and, in the case of Jenner and the Hadids, who were famous and wealthy before they were models, they’re also the actual one percent).
Graham, though, stands in a category unto herself, not just as the first plus-size supermodel but also as perhaps the most exciting supermodel, in the Zeitgeist-defining sense of the term, to emerge since that vaunted era. And it’s not just because she looks like a combination of Cindy Crawford, Eva Mendes, and Mad Men’s Joan Holloway. Or that she starred with Joe Jonas in DNCE’s “Toothbrush” video, about a girl so sexy you want her to stay over every night. She’s a supermodel you can see yourself in.
Necklace and clutch by Dolce & Gabbana. Photo: Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari
Her Instagram, with 4.7 million followers (far fewer than Jenner or either Hadid), isn’t her selling point. Her attainable sense of self-worth is. The indelibility of that SI cover is, as are the images of her walking down the runway of a lingerie show at New York Fashion Week, cellulite on display. Even a friend of mine’s reaction when I told her I was writing about Graham — “Oh, she’s that fat model, right?” — is. What Graham represents is the first, and most lauded, mainstream ambassador of a new beauty movement, of slowly shifting cultural norms that come not from fashion editors’ ideas about bodies but from real people’s.
In other words, in an age in which activism is our rock and roll — the shared mass-cultural moment that bonds us all — Graham stands for something. And she’s standing for it at a time when technology is pushing fashion toward a more user-driven model, both in creativity and in terms of money; to ignore the $20 billion market of plus-size women who want to look good, too, isn’t just rude, it’s shortsighted and dumb. Instagram in particular has become a hotbed of expression for stylish women sick of not seeing their body types represented in fashion. Five-foot-five and size 22 rockabilly bombshell Tess Holliday signed with a London-based modeling agency on the basis of her bold images and legion of followers, now 1.5 million. Along with other homegrown Insta models, like Nadia Aboulhosn and Gabi Gregg (over 500,000 followers each), she’s proved that the public has an appetite for better clothes for bigger girls — as well as one for bigger girls with attitude and good taste — and announced it loudly enough to have the fashion world take notice. (One also cannot underestimate the influence of the Kardashians, who proved that we should all be taking mirror selfies of our big, glorious butts.)
Graham’s success doesn’t represent so much a breaking of the idea of what hotness is but a natural correction. More than two-thirds of American women are a size 14 and higher. She’s not hot for a big girl. She’s just plain hot, no matter how many skinny, tall teenagers designers want to keep sending down the runway. And her appeal makes boundaries between “straight” sizes and plus sizes seem arbitrary.
A word about the phrase plus-size: Graham hates it because she thinks there’s an inherent implication of a dividing line between the “normal”-bodied and the “other.” “It’s like, ‘Plus what?’ ” she says. “That’s something I’ve always been told: ‘You’re not good enough because you’re plus-size.’ ” She adds, “I’m not here to ban the word from the dictionary” — plenty of women own and love it. She prefers curvy or curve (used in a sentence: A record 26 curve models walked in New York Fashion Week last season, including Graham in Michael Kors’s show).
Sweater, skirt, earrings, and necklace by Dolce & Gabbana; Top Hats of America hat at JJ Hat Center, 310 Fifth Ave. Photo: Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari
She’s also acutely aware of the inequity of her being the only such model who’s becoming a bona fide mainstream star. As she and her husband of seven years, Justin Ervin, have discussed, the body type that’s being celebrated as special on her is actually a beauty norm for many women of color. (Ervin, a cinematographer and documentary filmmaker whom she met at church, is black.) And there’s something wrong when women-of-color model friends of hers like Marquita Pring and Precious Lee aren’t getting the same opportunities. “I know I’m on this pedestal because of white privilege,” she says. “To not see black or Latina women as famous in my industry is crazy! I have to talk about it. I want to give those women kudos because they are the ones who paved the way for me.”
So did Emme, widely regarded as the first famous curve model, who started in the ’90s. She had difficulty getting designers to loan her clothes, even for her shoot for People’s “50 Most Beautiful People.” She never appeared on the cover of a major fashion magazine. One elite photographer ran out of a shoot screaming, “ ‘I am not shooting this fatty!’ I swear on my life,” Emme says. “Being the first one, I had a lot of pies thrown in my face. But I’m so proud of Ashley blowing it all up for the next generation so people could go, ‘You know what? Why not!’ ”
Dress by Dolce & Gabbana; Tiffany & Co.; earrings and necklace at 727 Fifth Ave. Photo: Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari
This year, just a few weeks after being fêted as part of the Time 100, Graham went to the Met Gala for the first time, in a stunning couture gown from H&M, with a fitted bustier and burst of red tulle at her shoulder. “Rihanna said I looked ‘hot as fuck,’ ” says Graham. “I had no idea what to say to her. I was just like, ‘You slay every Met, Rihanna!’ ” Once inside, she hung out with Kim Kardashian West, who picked spinach out of Graham’s teeth, then recruited Serena Williams to take a picture of her with Graham.
Graham actually had been “on hold” (a prelude to an invitation) for the Met Gala the year before but ended up staying home. “I couldn’t get a designer to dress me,” she says. “You can’t just show up in jeans and a T-shirt.” She insists it’s just because she didn’t have the right designer relationships and there hadn’t been enough time to get a custom gown (at the time she was convinced it was because her husband made the faux pas of hugging Anna Wintour not long before the gala), but likely a factor was that Graham is well out of sample-size range. To dress her requires extra work — she can’t wear something lying around the showroom — and an exercise in imagination that not every designer wants to go on. Coach agreed to dress her for January’s British Vogue, but as Alexandra Shulman noted in her editor’s letter that issue, “Sadly there were other houses that flatly refused to lend us their clothes.”
In part because of Graham and editors like Shulman raising the issue, things have improved dramatically and rapidly. Designers are more interested in making, and showing, clothes for bigger women. And agencies are signing more of these women too. “Even two seasons ago, I remember we got maybe six plus-size girls that came into the casting,” says designer Christian Siriano, a longtime advocate of size diversity, “and last season we got like 150.” Graham tells me she now borrows everything she wears to fancy events, with the designers fully aware that her stylist will aggressively tear off sleeves, lower bust lines, and add slits to better suit her body.
Before she landed her SI cover, Graham had been at Ford, which had a robust plus-size division for catalogue work but wasn’t pushing her for editorials. “I was with an agent who told me, ‘You’re not a cover girl,’ and I took that as, ‘Okay, he’s right,’ ” she says. “Then I went to an agency” — IMG — “that said, ‘Why aren’t you?’ ”
Graham was making oodles of money at Ford and likely never would have looked for new representation if that agency hadn’t suddenly shuttered its plus-size division in 2013. She started talking to the other Ford refugees, and soon they were having weekly meetings, which turned into tearful togetherness sessions in which they not only shared their stories of how hard it had been to be “plus” in an industry where the standard of beauty is the opposite of that, but they also dove into a topic that most women, no matter their size, have trouble broaching: their salaries. They brought in a brand strategist, who came up with charts to illustrate just how much money they were worth as a collective — a lot. They gave themselves a name, Alda: the Icelandic word for “wave.” Then they took the document and marched into every agency in town, including IMG, which added Alda to its roster just as models, no label attached, and made good on its promise to move Graham into editorial.
Every time Graham speaks to the press, she tries to bring up her fellow curve girls: Pring, Lee, Julie Henderson. “I’m getting a seat at the table we’ve never had before, and I’m also pulling up a couple of seats around me,” she says. “I know this isn’t about me. Just one girl is not going to change the world.”
Editors have to be onboard, too. Anna Wintour approved Graham’s Self cover, Graham says, then invited her to be on that Vogue cover celebrating diverse beauty (and also featuring Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid). Graham didn’t know about the battles British Vogue was fighting to get her dressed until she read Shulman’s letter. “The thing is, people are like, ‘Oh, we don’t want to offend her.’ I’m the one living this life! I know people don’t want to dress me!”
Dolce & Gabbana slip; Cartier necklace at 653 Fifth Ave.; Graff earrings at 710 Madison Ave.; Wing & Weft gloves; hand, at left: Van Cleef & Arpels necklace at 744 Fifth Ave.; Bulgari necklace at 730 Fifth Ave.; Yeprem rings at Bergdorf Goodman; hand, at right: Yeprem ring; Tiffany & Co. necklace at 727 Fifth Ave.; Graff bracelet. Photo: Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari
Graham was 12 years old when a modeling scout discovered her at a mall in Lincoln, Nebraska. School had been a constant struggle; she has dyslexia, plus there were the kids who’d nicknamed her “Thunder Thighs.” (What’s Graham’s nickname now? “Ashley Graham,” she says, laughing. “Some of my best friends call me Ashley Graham.”) Her parents, a database marketer and a homemaker, invested what for them was a huge sum to enroll Graham in a modeling course in Kansas City — with the goal of getting work in regional catalogues — and then spent the next six months driving her back and forth three hours each way.
The culmination was a modeling expo in Texas at which Graham won in the plus-size category. Wilhelmina called her to sign her the next day. To read Graham’s evocative memoir, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, is to understand why she alone has been able to break out of the plus-size camp. There are the genetic markers that made her what her second agency, Ford, called a “cash cow” in her own field: a stomach that stays flat no matter how much her size fluctuates, those glorious 36DDD breasts (“the girls”), that face. Then there’s the intangible: the engaging storyteller, the spill-all-beans attitude. IMG Models president Ivan Bart says that when he set her up with a TV agent from William Morris Endeavor, the agent walked out of the meeting and declared, “That’s not a model. That’s a brand.”
A brand that happened sort of by accident. The moment Graham realized she had something to say to the public about body image was when ABC and Fox refused to run a 2010 Lane Bryant commercial of hers, saying it was “too sexy.” The ad featured Graham dancing around her home in a bra and underwear when she gets a calendar reminder to “Meet Dan for lunch.” She throws on a trench coat and walks out the door. That’s it.
Graham found the ban to be hypocritical. Scolding national news stories ran highlighting what looked suspiciously like an unspoken bias, that women running around half-naked and exhibiting a sex drive were only acceptable if they were on, say, Dancing With the Stars and didn’t have so much flesh jiggling around their chests.
Jumpsuit by Dolce & Gabbana, at 717 Fifth Ave. Photo: Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari
“My agent at the time at Ford called me and he goes, ‘This could be your big break,’ ” says Graham. He told her to stay positive in every interview, “and that’s the only piece of media training I have ever had.” That controversy spawned her first Lane Bryant contract; she still appears in provocative ads for them, such as their #ImNoAngel campaign, which is a not-so-subtle dig at Victoria’s Secret. “Then I really wanted to design lingerie because I felt, ‘I’m the plus-size lingerie girl. If people think about plus-size lingerie, they’re going to think of me. How can I capitalize on that?’ ” It was unheard of for a workaday model like Graham (three years before the SI cover) to pitch her own lingerie line, and Addition Elle in Canada was the only company willing to sign on to her idea that the plus-size market deserved sexy, supportive lace bras like the ones Graham was finding in smaller sizes and squeezing into. Now they’re sold in Nordstrom and Macy’s and all over Europe. (She also has a clothing line at Dress Barn and a line of bathing suits at Swimsuits for All.) The SI cover, the first such issue in which a plus-size model had appeared anywhere in the magazine’s editorial pages, brought even more opportunity nearly two decades into her career.
“It was an eye-opening experience for me in that ‘Oh my God, I can do anything I want,’ ” says Graham. “When you’re given an SI cover and you take advantage of it, you can conquer the world. Look at Chrissy Teigen. Look at Tyra Banks. Look at Kathy Ireland. She’s a mogul in this industry now.”
The beauty industry, with its lucrative contracts, is the next frontier. “They still have yet to book a girl above a size 6 for a hair, makeup, or beauty campaign.” Actors, sure. “But no models,” says Graham. Yet.
Necklace by Dolce & Gabbana, at 717 Fifth Ave. Photo: Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari
The reactions Graham gets from men are a tad less about empowerment than those she gets from women. “When I’m traveling out of the country, a lot of guys give me a high five and then they’re like, ‘I love your work!’ ”
Which really means “I love your tits,” right?
“That’s okay!” says Graham. “I don’t pose naked just for women.”
Graham’s main mission, even more so than proving curvy women can be beautiful, is to show the world their sex appeal, that they don’t need to be draped in “dowdy clothes, dowdy lingerie.” She tells me that one of the best emails she’s received was “a husband who was thanking me because his wife finally felt comfortable enough in lingerie to have sex with the lights on.”
Her first boyfriend in high school broke up with her because he said he was afraid she’d someday be as fat as his mom. “That really made me hyperaware that I am a big girl, and that’s how people see me.” Then she went a little wild and lost her virginity to the high-school quarterback in the basement of a house party. After that, she stayed in an emotionally abusive relationship for far too long, mainly because that ex-boyfriend was the first man who seemed to appreciate her body. Before she got married, she and her husband, Ervin, built up their friendship through 12-hour dates, and no premarital sex. Until she met him, Graham had always gravitated toward bigger guys. Now, she says, “my husband weighs less than me, but he feels bigger than me.” She even tested him out by having him toss her around in different positions before they were having sex.
Graham talks openly about her body so other women will feel okay about theirs. When she doesn’t have to be shaven for a shoot, she says she likes to let her nether regions grow au naturel. (“How are my armpits?” she asks, holding up an arm for me to inspect.) When I visit her on the set of her New York shoot the next day, she has no qualms about anyone seeing her naked. She almost never uses a standard changing tent; being shy is so time-inefficient, so she wriggles into Spanx while surrounded by at least ten people, many of whom she’s just met.
Coat from the Dolce & Gabbana archives, fall 1991; bustier, shorts by Dolce & Gabbana, at 717 Fifth Ave.; Cappellino millinery hat, at cappellinomillinery.com. Photo: Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari
In front of the camera, Graham comes even more alive. Rolling on her back with her legs in the air, she proves incredibly flexible. Given a gigantic fake Champagne bottle, she rides it like a bucking bronco. Multiple times, she goes over to the monitor, points out areas she’s worried might get Photoshopped, and asks us not to do it, for her sake, her fans’, and ours. She would like us to highlight the “thigh brow,” a crease near her groin area that forms when she’s doubled over. On shots where her thighs look particularly bumpy, she tells us, “It’s better to keep the cellulite if you can. You can make it bigger!” It’s important to her brand: When Elle Canada heavily Photoshopped her, she posted the unretouched image immediately so her fans would know she’s not a poseur. “I was just being honest,” she says, “like, ‘Here’s the real back and belly fat,’ and it spiraled into, ‘Maybe I’m a body activist. I’m going to call myself one!’”
On the subway (she lives in brownstone Brooklyn), she’s often inundated with women coming up to her. “They see me and go, ‘If I had a girl when I was in high school talk the way you talk about your body, my life would be different.’ ” More difficult to navigate, though, is that “people look at my size now and know that’s what makes me famous,” she says. “That kind of sucks, too, because it’s like, ‘Damn, my size is what makes me famous?’ ” And, like most women, that size fluctuates. While she was on ANTM in L.A., she worked out only three times in two months. Now she’s got to get in decent-enough shape to walk a runway in her Addition Elle lingerie line during Fashion Week — a road that will mean a barrage of criticism from some of her fans, who call her names like “fake fat person” in her Instagram comments every time it looks like she’s getting thinner, something she and her friend Lena Dunham often commiserate about over text. (Around 75 percent of Graham’s followers are women.) There are also plenty of people who shame her for “making fat cool.” “ ‘You’re going to kill somebody,’ that’s a comment that will never leave my mind,” Graham has said.
We’ve been gabbing away on a bench near Chelsea Piers for hours, the night is still young, and Ervin is waiting at home with takeout Middle Eastern food. She helps me make one last wobbly stand in my Rollerblades, laces her fingers with mine, and leads me to a wall I can collapse against: “Woo-hoo! We did it! We can take our blades off! Doesn’t it feel better to be flat-footed?”
She’d love it if she could stop having to answer questions about her body, but she says, “This is the thing: I know I’m paving the way for the next generation of girls, and they’re not going to have to do this. That’s what I hope. I’ll take the brunt work and just handle it, and then you guys can just sail right on through.”
*This article appears in the August 7, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.
Styling by Victoria Bartlett; set design by Andrew Ondrejcak at Lalaland Artists; makeup by Dick Page at Statement Artists; hair by David Von Cannon at The Wall Group; nails by Donna D using Tom Ford Nail Lacquer.
*This article appears in the August 7, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.
Model Ashley Graham Has a Problem with the ‘Plus-Size’ Label
Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Body positive activist, designer, and model Ashley Graham has been proving for a while that healthy has nothing to do with numbers (case in point: 12 Times Ashley Graham Showed Us What Fitspo Was Really About).
Now, she’s teamed up with NYDJ to debut their 2016 “Fit to Be” campaign (she’s joined by Christie Brinkley, Lana Ogilvie, and Bridget Moynahan), which aims to highlight the ‘beautiful confidence that comes from finding a truly perfect fitting pair of jeans’.
We sat down with the model to talk about the frustrations of shopping for jeans, her go-to butt workout for ‘keeping her curves tight’, and how she really feels about the whole ‘plus-size’ label.
Shape: Finding a pair of flattering jeans is a source of frustration and insecurity for a lot of women. Is that something you’ve experienced as well?
Ashley Graham (AG): One hundred percent. From as long as I can remember, I’ve never been able to find that perfect jean. So when I do, I have to buy at least three pairs in multiple colors. You might look like you’re wearing the same thing but at least you know you look good and your clothes are clean! These NYDJ jeans are so awesome because they’re for any age, and any size-they go from 00 to 24-and come in so many cuts and colors. There’s a fit panel on the inside-it’s thicker than a Spanx-and it just holds you in and lets you know you’re secure. And the back is spandex-y, which is great because I like my butt to jiggle (I’m really into that!) When I walk, my stomach stays in and the back jiggles and I think it’s sexy!
Shape: What are some of your go-to butt moves for “keeping your curves tight,” as you like to say?
AG: Jumping squats and lunges for sure. I also have this booty band from one of my best friends, Courtney Paul-he was my very first trainer when I moved to New York. You get on all fours and use the booty brand to press up. And it creates the roundest, most lifted booty. I travel with it everywhere.
Shape: It’s clear working out is a big part of your life, and it obviously goes beyond looks-why is it so important to you to make fitness a priority?
AG: My health. I’m traveling a lot and there’s so much crap going into our bodies with the food we ingest-we don’t know what it is all the time. But when I work out I feel my best and I get that release of endorphins in my brain. So I always make it a priority to work out at least three days a week. You just feel better all around-unless you’re on your period. Then you’re like ugh, just give me some fries!
Shape: What about mental health? You’ve talked a lot about having body-positive affirmations.
AG: I think affirmations are so important, especially for women who have been raised in a society of perfection and feel like there’s a certain look they have to obtain. For me, dealing with my insecurities was about talking to myself; I came up with a list of things that I repeat to myself in front of the mirror. They are: You are bold, you are brilliant, and you are beautiful, and you will rule your world. This goes hand-in-hand with the vision board I do every year. If you put it out there, the things you want it’ll happen. My big thing this year is I really want to have a hair or makeup campaign.
Shape: Tess Holliday made news this week saying she prefers the term ‘plus-size’ over ‘euphemistic terms’ like ‘curvy’ because it actually makes women feel like they have something to identify with and aren’t alone, and it isn’t a negative thing. What are your thoughts on the ‘plus-size’ vs ‘curvy’ label?
AG: I think social media has really created a community for curvy women to make them feel that they are wanted and accepted. I started the hashtag #beautybeyondsize and women are posting photos I don’t think they ever would have shared-like of their cellulite rolls-because they have a community they can share it with.
When it comes to the word ‘plus-size’, I’ve been called a plus-size model for the past sixteen years. I hear it, sometimes I say it– it’s a slip of the tongue. But at the end of the day, it’s a label. You can say, ‘Yes it’s a negative thing’ or ‘maybe it’s not a negative thing’…but why would we want to be labeled something? Why do we want to be put in a different category than all the other types of models? No one says ‘skinny model’, so am I wrong for not wanting a label? I don’t think so. And you know what, this younger generation of girls that are bigger and curvier, do they want to be called plus-sized at age 13 when they go to school? No. You just want to be a girl. I think it’s about getting with the times. (Up next, here’s why Model Iskra Lawrence Wants You to Stop Calling Her ‘Plus-Size’.)
Shape: You’ve done a ton to break the mold in the fashion industry, both through your modeling career and as a designer of your own lingerie line. There’s been a ton of progress for sure, but what still needs to happen?
AG: We need to get more curvy girls on the cover of magazines and in editorials without the headline ‘Ahead of the Curve’. How many times have we heard that?! I think once we stop having to talk about ‘how do you feel about the word plus-size?’ we’ve made it. And the biggest thing to me is not just one or two curvy girls making it, but so many that you can’t keep up with it.
- By Kylie Gilbert @KylieMGilbert
Ashley Graham’s Plus-Size Denim Line Is All Kinds Of Edgy & Sexy
Jeans are a staple in pretty much everyone’s wardrobe. Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, Wrangler’s, Lee—we’ve all worn a pair by one of those brands or another. But Ashley Graham’s plus-size denim line, which she just dropped in collaboration with plus-size brand Marina Rinaldi, brings a whole new level of sexy cool to baby blues. Thanks to spot-on cuts, unexpected design details, and trend incorporation, the collection is a far cry from your favorite pair of bootcut jeans and is guaranteed to make you feel fire.
Graham, who as you certainly know by now is a model and strong voice within the body positivity movement, has been lending her honed eye to collaborative collections of all types as of late. She’s co-designed swimsuits with Swimsuits for All and worked with Addition Elle on a line of gorgeous lingerie. In spring 2017 she signed on as a brand ambassador for Marina Rinaldi and the following year, for spring 2018, she became a design collaborator. This new collection with the brand is therefore her second, meaning it was conceptualized and executed with what worked well in the first collection in mind. Sleek, edgy, and sexy as only Graham could make it, it’s a total knockout of a lineup.
“I couldn’t find things that fit me the way that I wanted them to, and I couldn’t find designs that made me feel special, that made me feel like a fashion girl. I’m not trying to walk down the street, accessorized in glam to the T every day, but I want to feel special,” Graham explains in an interview with Glamour. The matronly look Graham says many designers stick to with their plus-size offerings is the exact thing she wanted to avoid when designing this collection alongside the Marina Rinaldi team. “The initial conversation was, ‘Guys, if you want me, you know what you’re gonna get: You’re gonna get cool, you’re gonna get sexy.’ And they said, ‘Yes, this is what we want and this is why we want you.’ That was the initial, OK, we’re all on the same page,” she tells Glamour.
Take one look at the collection’s offerings and you’ll see Graham delivered exactly what she promised. Sleek, dark wash denim pieces that you could just as easily wear to the office as you could a night out dominate the lineup, which is amped up with touches of white hot cool via leather miniskirts and silky tops. Although the design team was receptive of her ideas from the get go, Graham did have to let them know that she wanted to create the collection completely from scratch and the ideas they’d already come up with needed to be reworked. “I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no—we have to change this, we have to move this.’ It was making things, coming up with mood boards that weren’t from previous collections…. I think what a lot of people do is they say, ‘Oh, well this sold really well. Let’s make another version of it.’ I was like, ‘No. We have to go to this completely—a new, clean slate,’” she tells Glamour.
One knockout piece from the collection is a black leather skirt featuring a thigh-high slit and overlap detail. Thought eh Marina Rinaldi was reportedly unsure about it in the beginning, Graham was persistent on its inclusion—a move that paid off. “I was like, ‘Put it on the mood board, let’s make it, let’s see what the bosses have to say.’ And sure enough, they made it, because they have faith,” she says.
Another is a dark wash denim dress that features a notched collar, zip-up front, and tie waist belt. “It’s so chic to me—you put it with a leather belt and a pair of leather booties and you can go out on the town, but you can also go to date night. It’s very versatile and lightweight, but it’s a fashion piece, something you would see Virgil make, maybe.”
The collection ranges between $165 and $815 and while it’s certainly not the most affordable new plus size line currently on the market, Graham hopes it will inspire other labels to follow suit and launch quality size-inclusive offerings of their own. “We’re in a time where it’s so new it has to be the headline,” she told Glamour. “We need people to know that this is not a trend—this is something that’s here to stay.”
Ashley Graham Fired Back at an Instagram Troll Who Called Her a ‘Fat Model’
As a plus-size model and body positive activist, Ashley Graham is used to having critics—and for the most part, ignoring them. But Graham couldn’t help but reply to an Instagram troll whose hate was off the charts.
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On Instagram, the troll posted side-by-side images of various models, including Graham. Slender models like Candice Swanepoel and Heidi Klum were described as “real” models, while curvier women, including Graham, were labeled “fat models.”
After seeing the post under the hashtag, #ashleygraham, Graham took screenshots and shared them in her Instagram story on Wednesday. The criticism compelled Graham to send her own message to women about their bodies.
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“I know I’m being a little petty by posting these stupid photos of somebody who wrote ‘real model’ and ‘fat model,’ but I will let you know nothing defines what a real model or a fat model or a fake model is,” she stated. “Your weight, your skin, your hair, your religious background…none of that determines whether you’re a real model or not. So all those girls out there who have dreams and hopes, keep fighting for them and don’t let all the losers on Instagram stop you.”
RELATED: Ashley Graham Slams Stereotypes About the ‘Right’ Swimsuit for Your Body
We can always rely on Graham to stand up haters who encourage body shaming. Last month, she fired back at people who called her a “real woman.” Though intended as a compliment (because she has a body that resembles that of real life females), she was not comfortable with the comparison.
“We are all real women,” she wrote in that PSA post. “I can’t stand it when I read comments that say ‘finally, a real woman.’ No matter what your size/shape/amount of cellulite—we are in this together.”
We can always count Ashley Graham‘s selfies to be unedited and 100-percent real. So when the 29-year-old model posted a bikini photo on Instagram yesterday, rocking her thigh crease and stretch marks like the body-confident queen she is, we were like, yasss.
Unfortunately not everyone shared that sentiment. Soon after posting the photo, Graham was attacked by body-shamers who accused her of being overweight and promoting obesity. One critic, who went by the handle fightfan1973, went on a rant about how Graham’s supposed weight gain will eventually end in the fashion industry turning against her and the demise of her modeling career.
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“I think its time for you to take a silent step away from the feminist ‘YES’ men and women who enable you to continue to do nothing about that ‘dunlap’ belly,” the shamer commented. “If you don’t lose weight soon, then you’re just going to be like every other overweight 30-year-old descent-looking woman who celebrated some success at a younger age, but can’t get the same attention as you used to. Doors that were once opened for you (both professionally and socially) are going to be slammed shut so hard you won’t even know what hit you!!!!…So please, sweet heart! Lose that belly now.”
Are you freaking kidding me? The story of body-shaming on social media is becoming an old one, so we’ll let Graham’s loyal followers take it from here:
“@fightfan1973 Where do you see fat on her belly? Her legs are bigger bc she has hips,” someone commented.
“@fightfan1973 Let people live their lives as they want. No one tells you what not to become when you age!” Another added. “Big or small everyone is different. If you don’t like it, look away.
“@fightfan1973 Dude, seriously, shut the fuck up. You’re truly embarrassing yourself, ranting about something you have no expertise in or knowledge about,” a follower wrote. “She’s amazing and famous and needs no such advice from peons such as yourself.”
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Bali Fun with Mama Graham💕
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“If people say this is obesity, they are wrong. She is a beautiful, fit, and healthy individual just slaying in her curvy body,” a follower wrote.
“Love the hip crease!” another added.
“Keep inspiring thousands of people out there to love themselves for what they are and not feel ashamed of their unique beauty,” someone commented.
Given that the photo is from Graham’s current girls’ trip with her mom in Bali, the model likely has no time or interest in giving these trolls her thoughts or energy—not now and not ever.
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There are many beautiful plus-sized models who are also curvy. Women with curves should be proud whether they are a size 2 or size 20. The commercial view that all women are or should be very thin to be fashionable is fading as more women embrace their plus-size and curvy figures.
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A curvy woman is not necessarily a plus-size woman. The designation of curvy has to do with body measurement and the differential between the size of the waist and hips. Curvy refers to a waist-hip differential of .75. If a woman has a waist size of 27 inches or less and a hip size of 36 inches, she is considered curvy. A hip size of 46 inches and a waist size of 34.5 inches or less is also considered curvy.
The definition of plus size depends on who is defining it. Some people believe that any woman’s size over a 12 is a plus size, while others declare that plus size starts at size 16. As women age and gain weight, the plus size designation is changing. In an article for the website Skinny vs. Curvy, Queen Latifah, who designs a clothing line for HSN, states that the term “plus size” should be buried. She says that all women are beautiful no matter what their size.
Plus Size vs. Curvy
Toccara Jones, who is considered a plus-sized model, defended having curves in an interview with Hip Hollywood. She states that what the media considers as curvy is not really curvy, no matter what the size. Curvy women come in all sizes, but the misuse of the term confuses young girls.
Women do not have standard sizes. A size 12 in one brand will not always be a size 12 in another designer’s fashions. So even designating a specific size as a plus size is confusing.
So, What is the Difference Between Plus Size and Curvy?
Women of any size can be curvy, because the designation has to do more with proportion rather than size. Plus size women can be curvy, and so can skinny women. Some people prefer to use the term “curvy” rather than “plus size” because it sounds less intimidating, but just getting rid of the term plus size would accomplish the same thing.
Size 10 Is Curvy, Not Plus Size: 3 Ways Fashion Is Hurting Its Sales
Fashion is an industry that prides itself on changing by the hour and yet sometimes stubbornly resists change for decades even when it makes no sense economically. I remember when I started out as a designer. There were certain areas of fashion you did NOT want to design for, namely, plus size, petite, and missy. These were the areas where style went out the window and originality went to die. Plus size meant clothes that were gigantic with few fashionable details and often in terrible prints. Fashion treated the Petites category as an annoying afterthought as if to say women who weren’t towering glamazons didn’t deserve style. Missy, well that meant you were over 40 and had given up on fashion all together. No, as a young and passionate design student you wanted to be in designer or bridge, working for somebody like Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein (who use size 6 fit models).
Times have changed and fashion has finally caught on to the fact that women of taste and style come in all ages, shapes and sizes. These women want fashion and they have the money to buy it. Yet fashion is still blindly following old habits. Calling larger sizes “plus size” is hurting brands economically because who wants to be called plus? Plus means big, more, larger than. Sure, plus size brands are blowing up but that’s not because larger women love the name. They’re just so excited to finally have fashion that they are willing to forgive anything. How much better would you feel as a woman if you walked into a store and they said “size 12?” why honey, you need to go to our “gorgeous, luscious curves” section. A brand that called size 10 or 12 curvy would have my loyalty for life.
Unfortunately, mislabeling the larger size market “plus” is not the only area where fashion is missing out on opportunities. There is a whole segment of women who are “healthy,” aka size 8-12. Take Kristin Hendricks from Mad Men. She has a beautiful size 10 figure. She’s nowhere near plus size and yet go to any contemporary sportswear store and the majority of clothes won’t look good. Why? The proportions were designed for size 0-6 women or what Bridget Jones called “stick insects.” To properly design for women in this size range designers have to think about more than height. 40 may be the new 20 but no matter how great you look, as you get older, your arms change. Women who are size 10 often have larger busts which need different style lines. Take a certain contemporary brand. Every time I walk by I think “great prints, gorgeous fabrics, not one of those pieces of clothing will look good on me,” and I’m their demographic. A gorgeous Grecian dress in a catalog looked stunning on the model. On my friend with a chest, it looked like a refrigerator and she has a great figure. Designers should take a page from the 1950s when trying to create clothes that fit women with curves.
One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is in Designing Woman with Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall. It demonstrates so clearly how long it’s been since the fashion industry celebrated curvy women. In the scene, Lauren visits Gregory Peck’s apartment for the first time. She noses around as most of us do to see if he has any skeletons, aka old girlfriends in his closet, only to find a picture of a bold and beautiful blonde with curves that would give the drivers of the Grand Prix a challenge. The look of dismay on her face as she measures the width of her competition against her own and comes up short is priceless.
When the 1960s Youthquake came around with Mary Quant we gave up on curves in favor of the figures of younger bodies and we haven’t truly made it back since. Take the increase in size of the average American woman over the past few decades. Amazingly, as America grows bigger, stores have favored putting smaller and smaller sizes like 0, 2, and 4 on their shelves. Fit models, traditionally size 8 have been co-opted for slimmer size 6 models.
While I am so happy to see fashion brands finally embracing larger sizes, I’m concerned for the number of opportunities they are missing at a time when most brands are fighting for their lives. I am also disappointed to see the lack of regard for naming. Words have power. Calling women plus size is denigrating. Women turn to fashion for safety and to feel good about themselves in a world of media that holds them to impossible standards. It would be great if fashion would have our backs and come up with designs that fit our many shapes and names that fit who we are. Real. If they can do that, we all win.
Have an opinion? Please share your comments.
Why We Need To Eliminate “Curvy” From The Plus Size Vocabulary
In 2013, a survey conducted by plus size clothing brand Sonsi discovered that women prefer curvy over plus size as far as body descriptors go. For me, however, the opposite is true. Being called “curvy” feels like an insult — like a pedantic beating-around-the-bush phrase used by those wanting to avoid the word “fat.” The issue isn’t that I’m not fat, though. I am fat and I’m happy with that fact. The issue is that, well, I’m not particularly curvy.
When somebody calls me curvy, I feel like I’m not being the right kind of fat, simply because my body isn’t shaping itself into the prescribed box of acceptable curves that society tends to promote. I hardly have any hips and my thighs aren’t all that thick, but I do have a large tummy and even larger breasts. I’m top heavy, and that’s OK. When I’m called “curvy,” though, I feel like I’m being presented with the subtle implication that not having the curves to “balance” my body out makes me less beautiful.
There are so many different kinds of fat bodies in existence — bodies that don’t adhere to the hourglass shape that often feels demanded of plus size women wanting to be accepted by the public. But body shaming includes body shape shaming. Although many women fit into the “big titties, big butt too” look that Nicki Minaj so whole-heartedly embraces, fat placement differs in every single body, and not everyone can or should have to fit into an archetype. A symptom of my polycystic ovarian syndrome is that most of my weight sits low on my stomach. Too often, I’ve stared in the mirror with shame as my hand traces what I lovingly nickname my “hip dip” — the space on my side between my stomach and my thighs. I don’t have “curves in all the right places,” but I do have curves in some places, and in others not at all. This doesn’t make me any less right or worthy.
Not only does the term “curvy” arguably shame some larger ladies into questioning their body shape as well as their body’s size, but the descriptor is also used almost exclusively towards plus size women, ignoring the curves and the feelings of thinner women in the process. Body shaming includes skinny shaming, but we all too often forget that. As someone actively involved in body positivism, it’s not hard to see that the world of “fat” and the world of “thin” are sometimes pitted against each other. By only using the word curvy as a synonym for fat, or adopting ideologies such as “real women have curves,” we exclude thin women with curves and shame those without them.
For me, the word plays into traditional beauty standards that subsequently make it harmful to all women as well. Whether people mean for it to do so or not, it plays into the conception that the “perfect” female figure is an hourglass woman who follows the big-breasts-no-waist-big-butt aesthetic and nothing more. When curvy was banned on Instagram, many people felt the decision was rooted in Instagram’s issues with the female body. But IG also acknowledged the connection to “inappropriate content” — inappropriate content that’s arguably surfaced because the word has been so removed from what it should mean. It’s become a source of so much objectification and sexualization that when searching for it on your feed, all you will discover is (apparently) porn.
In a lot of ways, my feelings towards the word curvy are similar to my feelings about the #DropThePlus campaign, which argues for plus size models (and plus size women in general) to simply be called models and not be singled out for their larger physiques. Drop the Plus wanted to remove “plus size” from our vocabularies as a means to create more inclusivity. The campaign didn’t acknowledge, however, that a lot of people actively embracing the label are also helping reclaim the word “fat.” We’re raised in a culture of critique, but “fat” is not a negative, and treating it like one can only cause harm.
Fat is not a dirty word: It’s simply a descriptor of what a body is. “Curvy,” however, only seems to describe a select few individuals whilst also being used as a synonym for “fat.” Calling me curvy is not a compliment. It’s a way to avoid what’s directly in front of you: That I’m fat, but that you feel uncomfortable calling me as much because you still think fat is a bad word.
I’m all boobs and tummy and I love it.
I absolutely understand why some women would prefer to call themselves curvy over fat. For a lot of people, curvy holds positive connotations while fat only holds negative ones. If you’ve been taught to believe that “curvy equals good” and “fat equals bad,” why would you want to prescribe for yourself the latter descriptor? Whilst curvy can feel like a good descriptor for some, however, it also feels damaging to describe yourself as something that you are not. Being fat may bring with it a multitude of sociocultural issues, but from my experience, pretending that you are anything else will only be detrimental to your wellbeing in the long run.
Personally, reclaiming the word fat was one of the most liberating choices of my life. When I refer to myself in this way and a friend feels that I’m being negative towards myself, I correct them. I’m not being negative. Societal standards of beauty have simply forced us into perceiving that. And when that friend refers to me as curvy? Well, I’ll correct them as well, because it’s just a cop out from acknowledging the fatness I don’t have a problem with.
Images: Georgina Jones