Ashley Graham rose to fame as a plus-sized model and activist for the body positivity movement. She recently posted a photo on Instagram (below) and subsequently received a lot of flack from her fans because they felt she looked too skinny and “sold out” for losing weight.
Today, the new America’s Next Top Model judge responded to these critiques in an essay titled “Shamed If I Do, Shamed If I Don’t” that she published on Lenny Letter. In the essay, she shares some of the comments posted on this now viral photo, which call her a “fake fat person” and tell her she “shouldn’t be considered the face of plus-size women anymore.” The model expresses her frustration with body shaming that attempts to disguise itself as body positivity.
No matter how many empowerment conferences, TED talks, and blog posts are out there, women keep tearing one another down over physical appearance. 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. It’s wanting me to be plus size, or assuming I’m pregnant because of some belly bulge. What type of example are we setting for young girls and their self-esteem if grown adults are on Instagram calling other women “cowards” for losing weight, or “ugly” for being overweight?
She also walks us through what went through her head when she was taking and posting the now infamous picture on the set of America’s Next Top Model:
While I was on set filming America’s Next Top Model, my hairstylist snapped a picture of me in a white knit skirt, matching crop top, and an amazing Balmain leather jacket that I absolutely loved. It was one of those photos where you look and say to yourself, “YESSSS, HONEY! I look damn good!” 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.
She has used her fame to show the world that it’s okay to love yourself in every form and adopt the lifestyle choices that make you comfortable and happy. Yeah, she works out, but she also isn’t afraid to indulge herself. She shouldn’t be shamed for doing either.
Graham pointed out to all the people who are hating on her for losing weight that she hasn’t lost any weight in the past year and is actually bigger than she was three years ago. She also made sure to remind everyone that plus-sized models start at a size 8, and she’s a size 14. None of that should matter, though, because body policing of any nature contradicts the idea of body positivity. Ashley Graham works hard to make people of all shapes and sizes realize that, despite what society may say, there’s nothing wrong with being who you are. Show her the same respect.
We can’t wait to see her point of view expressed on the reboot of America’s Next Top Model! Check out her entire essay here and tune in when Top Model returns this fall on VH1.