"Curvy Isn't A Trend" — Ashley Graham On Her Return To The Catwalk (2023)

Ashley Graham is so happy, she’s singing. Every other sentence is punctuated with an “amaz-ing”, or “excit-ing”, the final syllable operatic. The supermodel is returning to catwalks, covers and campaign shoots after a pandemic-defined maternity leave that she never could have predicted.

The face of Pandora’s new collection, she’s wearing stacks of diamond rings and earrings on our video call, with an apple green Frankie Shop shirt, holding a sunshine yellow McDonalds coffee cup.

"I'm in Issey Miyake shorts, but they are elasticated," she admits. "What I learned in the last year is that chic and comfort can go hand in hand, it's just a matter of how you put it to-geth-er!" Graham, 33, has become one of America's most popular and bankable models in recent years, as well as a changemaker in the fashion industry. A prominent body positivity campaigner, her career has been filled with symbolic "firsts" the first "plus size" model to star on the cover of Sports Illustrated's Swimwear Issue in 2016, and the first to make the cover of American Vogue in 2017.

For Vogue's January 2020 cover, she was photographed, goddess-like, by Annie Leibovitz when six months pregnant. "I have that picture framed but not hung," she cackles. "I think it's going to go in the office. I can't have that girl watching over me when I'm in my sweats in the living room."

Her latest effort has been to change the narrative around what happens to a woman’s body after pregnancy. Ashley provides an honest, alternative role model to those who post social media pictures suggesting they have “snapped” into shape at just one week post-partum.

After 10 years of marriage, Ashley and her cinematographer husband Justin Ervin welcomed their first child, Isaac, in January 2020. She felt it was essential to share every aspect of new motherhood from breast pumping to her slow and steady approach to exercise with her 12.5 million Instagram followers.

“Having Isaac was a big change for me,” Ashley explains. “Being a new mommy and breastfeeding, I was trying to figure out what motherhood means for myself, my body and my family dynamic. I still have 25lb extra on me from the baby and we’re over a year in. God bless the women who bounce back after a couple of months, but that is not my body. My body has been screaming at me we are not meant to go back.”

Ashley made her return to the catwalk in September, starring in socially distanced shows for Fendi and Etro, both in Milan. In February, she walked in Michael Kors’ New York show.

“When I went to the runway in Milan, I was only gone for four days,” she explains. “In some ways it felt like a vacation, in other ways it felt like torture. I had Isaac in January [2020] and I knew I wasn’t going to make it back on to the runway for February, because that would be insane. I wanted to go back for September.”

"Curvy Isn't A Trend" — Ashley Graham On Her Return To The Catwalk (1)

Due to the pandemic, Ashley wasn’t sure if there would be any fashion shows to return to. Her young family had driven 20 hours from New York to her mother’s home in Nebraska when the crisis began. They stayed for six months.

“It turned out to be the maternity leave I could have never asked for,” she says. Preparing for that first job with Fendi, refreshingly, didn’t involve a crash diet or a military exercise regime. For Ashley it was as simple as learning to walk in heels again.

“When Fendi booked me I was so grateful,” she says. “It felt so good. I put on a pair of heels at my mum’s house and walked around for an hour, as my first thought was that I hadn’t worn heels since November 2019.”

Ashley’s newest job is with Pandora she is the face of the jewellery brand’s new range of Brilliance lab-created diamonds.

“I’m all about self-gifting,” she says of Pandora’s ethos, to encourage women to buy jewellery for themselves. “I had a really terrible break-up with a boyfriend [when I was young] and I saw a necklace that really spoke to me. It had a tiny diamond and it said, I love you. I bought that for myself, to remember to love myself. Jewellery can do that for you.”

Ashley was just 12 years old when she was scouted at a shopping mall in Nebraska and was even at that age, and a UK size 14 labelled as an adult “plus size” model. She predominantly shot catalogue commercials until 2010, when television networks banned an underwear advert she starred in for department store Lane Bryant, on the grounds that it was “too risque”.

Ashley, then 23, considered the rejection discriminatory; would it have happened to a less voluptuous model? She spoke out, and started an international conversation about body-shaming in fashion media. She began working with designers from Dolce & Gabbana to Tommy Hilfiger and by 2017, she had made Forbes’ list of the world’s richest supermodels.

“I remember at the beginning of my career, people were asking me, ‘do you think that curves are just a trend?’,” she says of how attitudes have changed. “My response was, ‘do you think that my body is a trend?’ The average size of an American woman is 14-16 [UK 18-20], those are the facts. It’s who we are.” While the visibility and inclusivity of “plus size” women in fashion has improved greatly, Ashley has her sights on a very specific goal.

“I’ve been doing this for 21 years, and the shift has been astronomical,” she says. “Originally the hard thing was changing the minds of designers, to acknowledge that every body is beautiful and every body deserves clothing that fits. I think the next hurdle is getting designers to learn about size grading [in pattern-cutting classes] at university level. The change will be gradual, but to me that’s a good sign, as it means it will last.”

Ashley has been steadily building her experience as a television and audio host. Her YouTube exercise video series, Thank Bod, has gained a 289,000-strong following. She stood in to present Ellen DeGeneres's flagship talk show, and has hopes to develop a live show format of her successful Pretty Big Deal podcast for Spotify.

“I love being an interviewer, I am so curious about people,” she says. Over 47 episodes, she has quizzed stars from Kim Kardashian to Serena Williams. “I’m so excited [venues] are opening up, as I’d love to have an audience. I want people to be a part of it.”

Ashley is an open book, a superstar in a new era of modelling that could not be further from the “never complain, never explain” generation before her. “I’m just being myself,” she shrugs. “I hope I can give people confidence to be themselves too. I want to keep making that change in the world.”

Telegraph Media Group

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FAQs

Is Ashley Graham the first plus-size model? ›

Graham was one of the first plus-size models to appear in the pages of the Swimsuit Issue. In 2016, she became the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue.

Why is Ashley Graham so famous? ›

What is Ashley Graham famous for? Ashley has gone on to become a world famous supermodel and has appeared in many collections and catwalk shows. She is also fashion designer and in 2013 designed a lingerie line for Addition Elle, a Canadian plus-size clothing retailer.

What is the average weight of a plus-size model? ›

Female measurements: Plus-size women working in modeling are usually a size 12 and above. Their weight should typically be between 161 and 205 pounds, with a chest size of 41” to 45”.

What is Ashley Graham's dress size? ›

Ashley Graham flaunts her size 16 figure as she models for a brand that caters to women size 10 to 22: 'Curvy girls deserve cute well fitting clothes'

Is Ashley Graham an hourglass? ›

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and that's why plus-size model Ashley Graham makes headlines. She knows how to embrace her body exactly how it is, while enhancing her gorgeous curves and highlighting an hourglass shape.

How much weight did Ashley Graham gain? ›

Ashley Graham says she's 'never felt better' since gaining 50 pounds during pregnancy.

What is considered plus size for a woman? ›

Plus-size clothing is generally considered a women's size 18 and beyond. “Missy” or “straight” sizes range from 00–16/18, XXS–XXL whereas plus sizes range from 12W–28W, 0X–4X and greater. You might think plus sizes are just extended straight sizes, but guess again.

What size is considered curvy? ›

Generally, hip measurements of 36 inches or less are considered skinny body types, whereas curvy ones have usually 37 or more (inches). Similarly, skinny women have bust measurements of 34 or less, but that may also be true some curvy body shapes (see below).

What size are curvy models? ›

Plus-sizemodeling is generally a size 12 and up. Plus-size models are typically evaluated and cast based on dress size rather than body measurements. As a general rule, plus-size models are defined by the fashion industry as anyone larger than a size 6.

Who is the heaviest super model? ›

American model Teighlor reached a peak weight of 326.14 kg (718.7lbs) in the early 1990s and has forged a successful modelling career, appearing in films, on greeting cards and in advertisements.

What is the perfect body size for a model? ›

In general, a model should be about 1.73 to 1.79 meters tall. The question of weight is less important in the modeling scene. A slender and long body that is toned, trained and has the right proportions is of much more value. The National Charta of the German Textile and Fashion Industry has set a BMI of at least 18.5.

Who was the first curvy model? ›

Many consider Emme, born Melissa Owens Miller, to be the first mainstream plus-size model to achieve mainstream commercial success. She was the first plus spokesperson contracted by Revlon in 1998.

How much did Ashley Graham's babies weigh? ›

Ashley Graham shares bump pic revealing twins are 6lb EACH!

Does Ashley Graham have a husband? ›

Supermodel Ashley Graham confirmed her second pregnancy in July 2021 a little over a year after welcoming her first child, Isaac Ervin. Now, Graham and husband Justin Ervin are a proud family of five.

What is Ashley Graham's diet? ›

Ashley Graham's Diet

A smoothie made of kale, ginger, lemon, apple, beetroot, and parsley. Quinoa and brown rice bowl with veggies, topped with tahini. Baked salmon, arugula, and sweet potato. Chocolate Tree chia crackers.

What is the biggest hourglass ever made? ›

Located in the tallest of the six pyramids that house the Nima Sand Museum, Japan, is a 5.2-m-tall (17-ft 0.72-in) 560-kg (1,234.6-lb) hourglass with a diameter of 1 m (3 ft 3.37 in). It is filled with 629,100,000,000 grains of the “singing” Osodani sand, which weigh 1,000,368 g (2,205 lb 6.88 oz).

Which is the oldest hourglass in the world? ›

The oldest known surviving hourglass resides in the British Museum in London. Not until the 18th century did John Harrison come up with a marine chronometer that significantly improved on the stability of the hourglass at sea.

What not to wear if you have an hourglass figure? ›

‍Avoid boxy and straight skirt styles as well as stiff fabrics. Keep away from skirts with big voluminous pockets, ruffles, darts or other embellishments around the hips unless you balance them with details around the chest. Finally, stay away from low-waisted skirts since these would add bulk to the lower body.

Who is Ashley Graham in a relationship with? ›

' And then we're just right back in a great mood.” Graham and Ervin are looking forward to forever with each other and building a relationship that is more than two people in love.

Is it OK to gain 50 pounds during pregnancy? ›

A woman who was average weight before getting pregnant should gain 25 to 35 pounds after becoming pregnant. Underweight women should gain 28 to 40 pounds. And overweight women may need to gain only 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.

How long did Ashley Graham carry her twins? ›

1 Instagram post that she reached "full term" as she marked 40 weeks of carrying her and husband Justin Ervin's twin sons.

Who was the 1st plus-size model? ›

Emme (born Melissa Owens Miller; June 30, 1963) is an American plus-size model, social reformer and body image advocate. Emme gained worldwide fame as the first full-figured model chosen for People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People, first in 1994, then for a second time in 1999.

Who was the first plus-size model on ANTM? ›

Whitney Thompson is the biggest winner yet on "America's Next Top Model." May 19, 2008 — -- Could stick-thin models be on their way off the runway? That's what some are wondering after Whitney Thompson became the first plus-size model to win "America's Next Top Model" last week. Thompson, 20, is a size 10.

Who was the first plus-size VS model? ›

“The real angel with curves,” wrote one follower, whilst another comment read “Finally VS valuing models with a real body. '' A post on Facebook came with the caption “Barbara Palvin is FINALLY the first plus size Victoria's Secret Angel. She DESERVES it.”

Who started plus-size modeling? ›

Pat Swift, a plus-size model at the time, founded Plus Models in 1978. Ford Models began representing plus size models in 1978, and added two models to their board, including top model Ann Harper, due to demand from clients.

Are there fat Victoria Secret models? ›

On Monday, it was widely reported that Victoria's Secret hired its first plus-size model, Ali Tate. On Instagram, Tate commented on her new job, saying she's "pretty stoked" to work with the brand.

Why doesn t Victoria Secret use plus-size models? ›

Ed Razek, chief marketing officer at the brand, has explained why he still refuses to use women larger than a size eight in the shows. Victoria's Secret has apparently considered it, but decided that the public has "no interest it it".

What size are Victoria Secret models? ›

Today, the average woman wears a dress size of 16 to 18, whereas a Victoria's Secret model is a mere size 4 — perpetuating an unrealistic standard of beauty, the researchers say.

How much do you have to weigh to be on America's Next Top Model? ›

There is no weight requirement and no prior modeling experience is preferred. Be sure to read all the Eligibility Requirements for all the rules. You must bring your completed application forms and 3 photos of yourself with you to Diamond Mazda for UPN The Block's America's Next Top Model auditions.

Who were the six original supermodels? ›

The "Big Six" was a group of elite models in the 1990s: Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, and Christy Turlington. This handful of high-paid models are often considered to be the first ~capital S~ Supermodels.

Who were the first five supermodels? ›

Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Tatjana Patitz are sometimes called the “original supermodels” or “the big five”, as they were the biggest names by the end of the 1980s when supermodels were rivalling film stars for wealth, glamour and tabloid space.

Can a size 10 be a plus-size model? ›

Plus-sizemodeling is generally a size 12 and up. Plus-size models are typically evaluated and cast based on dress size rather than body measurements. As a general rule, plus-size models are defined by the fashion industry as anyone larger than a size 6.

How much water do models drink per day? ›

Models adjust their water intake depending on their requirements. The article goes on to mention that a typical supermodel aims for a minimum of 2 liters a day but goes up to a gallon (3.8 liters) 10 days before the show.

How tall do plus-size models have to be? ›

Height requirements vary depending on the type of plus size modeling. Fashion models are generally 5'9'' to 6', fit models are generally 5'5 to 5'9', and commercial models can be any height.

What size are most models? ›

Height is typically between 5'9″-6″, bust is between 32″-36″, waist is between 22″-26″, and hips should be between 33″-35″. Of course most woman don't meet these standards and that is why fashion models generally get paid the most and work the most.

What size is considered plus-size? ›

According to PLUS Model magazine, "In the fashion industry, plus size is identified as sizes 18 and over, or sizes 1X-6X and extended size as 7X and up".

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