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Women’s History Month Spotlight: Ashley Graham by Natalie Ball

When asked to picture a model in your head, what do you think of? It was not too long ago that we usually associated models with a certain size, which was from size 00 to size 4 at most. However, society has expanded and progressed since then. You may still associate size with models, beauty, or even health, but there are many diverse models today that represent not only different sizes but body types, height, race, gender and much more. We as a society have not only accepted these differences of one another, but broadcasted them to the world and been proud of the progress we have made. But who opened the door to this progressive curve of society? Ashley Graham.

Ashley Graham was shopping at a mall in Omaha, Nebraska when she was discovered by a modeling agency at age thirteen, though the biggest breakthrough in her career was in 2016 when she utilized her millions of social media followers to promote a message of body positivity and acceptance. From there, she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, and even took Tyra Banks’s place as the model mentor in America’s Next Top Model. Today, Graham is worth nearly $10 million.

Apart from her successful modeling career, what really stands out is her revolutionization to other aspects of our society. The modeling world was not the only industry to be impacted by her words. The fashion industry was challenged to not take no for an answer, and Ashley Graham forced its hand into creating clothes for all body shapes and sizes. Not only that, but she also encouraged making companies more inclusive by adding diverse options of clothing styles and sizes that could fit anyone and everyone. This exposed companies that refused to make samples for bigger sizes, and promoted ones that did.

Seeing Ashley Graham on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and later Vogue, Wall Street Journal, Allure and many others created a space in the advertising industry to show that this kind of body positivity was not only inclusive, it sold magazines–like…lots of magazines. It was the change society needed to begin to accept this concept of loving your body as is, and it changed perspectives on body image permanently.

Since Graham’s success, society has shifted.
Ashley Graham held the key to body acceptance and positivity, and unlocked doors that many women needed to feel comfortable with their own body. She is a name that deserves more recognition than just a “plus size model”.

This article was written by our inspiring intern, Natalie Ball.

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