Ashley Graham has spent plenty of time defending herself against those who loudly believe her appearance is offensive.
Usually, she finds herself explaining why it's perfectly acceptable to be a model and – shock horror – have a body bigger than a size zero.
However the America's Next Top Model judge says she recently had to cope with negative comments from people unhappy because they believe she's lost weight, even labelling her a “fake fat person”.
In response to this damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't scenario, Graham has penned an inspirational essay condemning anyone who judges and criticises women's bodies, declaring: “The cycle of body-shaming needs to end. I'm over it.”
Writing for Lena Dunham's Lenny newsletter, she explains while on set filming recently she – as active social media users are wont to do – had a photo taken of her outfit (below).
“I didn't give it a second thought when I posted it, but soon the image went viral. Not because of how good I looked wearing a high-end designer that doesn't usually market to women my size, but because of people's misguided views on women's bodies and who owns the rights to them.”
However, the picture didn’t go down well with some online, receiving comments such as, “I am so disappointed in you” and “You used to be a role model and I looked up to you.”
So turns out she can't win: “When I post a photo from a ‘good angle,’ I receive criticism for looking smaller and selling out. When I post photos showing my cellulite, stretch marks, and rolls, I'm accused of promoting obesity. The cycle of body-shaming needs to end. I'm over it.”
To some I'm too curvy. To others I'm too tall, too busty, too loud, and, now, too small – too much, but at the same time not enough.
Graham, behind the #BeautyBeyondSize campaign on Instagram, made history by becoming the first size-16 model to appear in Sports Illustrated and, as she says, after 16 years in the industry she has become “conditioned to accept criticism. But last week, I admit that I had a tougher time brushing off the haters.”
She adds: “Body shaming isn't just telling the big girl to cover up. It's trying to shame me for working out. It's giving "skinny" a negative connotation […]
“I'm very proud of my work as a model, and I'm even more proud of the work we've all done to raise awareness for body positivity and size diversity within the fashion industry […] However, I refuse to let others dictate how I live my life and what my body should look like for their own comfort.
“I am more than my measurements. I'm not Ashley Graham just because I'm curvy. For the past 16 years, my body has been picked apart, manipulated, and controlled by others who don't understand it. But now my career has given me a platform to use my voice to make a difference. We can't create change until we recognise and check our own actions.”
“My body is MY body. I'll call the shots.
Read the essay in full here.