Janel Dyan

Women Crushing It Wednesday

#WCIW: Ashley Graham

Revolutionary Model. Body Positive Activist. Powerhouse Business Woman.

Ashley Graham is a force to be reckoned with. She is one of the most successful models in the world, an activist for the fight for inclusion in the fashion industry and an inspirational business woman. Ever since the 29-year-old Nebraska native left her hometown behind to pursue a modeling career at age 13, her career has featured a series of milestones for both the model herself, and for size 14 models and curvy women everywhere. In 2015, Graham was featured in the ad campaign for Swimsuits For All, which captured the attention of Sports Illustrated and made Ashley Graham the first ever size 14 model to be seen in the magazine. This breakthrough gave her a platform for body positive activism that focuses on the rejection of “plus size” models and embraces women for their beauty at each and every size. 

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In addition to her Sports Illustrated cover, Graham has appeared on the covers of nearly every major fashion magazine and in ad campaigns for Lane Bryant, Marina Rinaldi, Hanes, and Macy’s. She has also walked on runways for designers like Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, H&M, and Christian Siriano for Lane Bryant. Ashley was recently a judge on the latest edition of America’s Next Top Model and has hosted Miss Universe and Miss USA. Through her fierce poses, her commanding catwalk, and the confidence with which she conducts herself, Ashley Graham has proven herself to be a powerful influencer of change in the fashion industry. She has been making her mark as an entrepreneur, as well. A genius of self-branding, she has active collaborations with Lane Bryant, Dressbarn, Swimsuits for All, and Addition Elle, and has recently announced an upcoming collaboration with Marina Rinaldi. 

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Ashley’s biggest impact has been in her activism. She is active on Instagram and her posts never shy away from flaunting her curves—cellulite, rolls, and all. Her confidence is infectious and inspirational and her comment sections are filled with love, hope, and grateful fans who applaud Graham for her bravery, self-love, and beauty. Through her lingerie and swimwear lines, she encourages other women to embrace their curves and to flaunt them. Ashley’s posts and editorials have shown the world—and other curvy women—that voluptuous women are sexy. She has even caused some hashtags on Instagram to go viral including: #beautybeyondsize, #lovetheskinyourein, #allbodiesaregoodbodies, #morethan, and #MySwimBody. Her most recent hashtag for Lane Bryant, #ImNoAngel, seems to be a well-placed jab at a certain Angel-obsessed lingerie brand. In Graham’s recent TED talk, she speaks of how she began to feel free once she realized she was never going to fit in the mold that society wanted her to fit in. Of the change that she is helping to foster in the industry, Ashley has said, “I have been so blessed not only to talk about things that I want to talk about in my industry, but also to have a platform - and people want to hear about it. People want the change; people want the difference; people want to know what's going on. People want to see themselves in the industry that for so long has ostracized girls of my size.”  

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With influencers like Ashley Graham, and the inclusion movement gaining steam worldwide, we are truly starting to see the difference in the industry—New York Fashion Week just celebrated it’s most diverse season ever. This is just the beginning of the powerful movement that has the potential to change, not just the fashion world, but the world for all women. 

For her contributions to the body confidence and inclusion movement, her revolutionary modeling career, and her badass entrepreneurship, Ashley Graham is this week’s #WCIW.

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