Ashley Graham wants to be known as a model and body activist—simple as that. But in the fashion industry, anyone over a size 8 is considered "Plus-Size." In her latest Ted Talk, she encourages us to drop the label and just begin calling ourselves what we are: women.
Her 10-minute speech explains how the fashion industry told her she'd never be in magazines—let alone the covers of them—because of her size. This year alone, she'd landed the cover of five major mags and was the first curvy woman to be featured in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition. *flips hair* Girl totally proved them wrong.
Ashley admits her journey from starting as a teen model until now was filled with self-hatred and body negativity, and it takes a lot of work to accept ourselves as we are—cellulite and all. She encourages us to not feel uncomfortable celebrating our beauty, that we need to work together to redefine what is beautiful–and it all starts with ourselves. Check out some of our favorite quotes from Ashley's Ted Talk below:
Ashley on the implications of the "Plus-Size" label:
"Did you know that the plus-size fashion industry starts at a size 8? And it goes up to a U.S. size 16. So, basically what I'm saying is that the majority of this room right now, is considered 'plus-size.' How does that make you feel to be labeled?"
Ashley on redefining beauty:
"Dove's global report on attitudes toward beauty actually did a survey with thousands of women in 10 different countries, and you know what the most striking result was? That only 2% of women find themselves beautiful. 2%. We need to work together to redefine the global vision of beauty, and it starts with becoming your own role model."
Ashley on how the modeling industry is changing:
"Plus-size fashion is an 18 billion dollar industry, and now IMG, the world's number one modeling agency, has signed me and other models that are not defined by their size."
Ashley on dropping the "Plus-Size" from her job title:
"Curvy models are becoming more and more vocal about the isolating nature of the term 'Plus-Size.' We are calling ourselves what we want to be called: women with shapes that are our own."
Ashley on empowering other women:
"My goal is to give a voice to young women who struggle to find someone they can look up to—for girls who struggle to look inside the mirror and say, 'I love you.' For women who feel uncomfortable expressing their confidence they've locked away inside themselves. [...] It is critical that men and women create a body positive environment. [...] Be your favorite kind of woman. Don't let anybody else take that job."