We just love Ashley Graham. We loved it when she wrote about challenging conventional beauty standards in the modeling world. We loved it when she rocked the #PlusIsEqual campaign at New York Fashion Week and debuted her amazing lingerie line. We loved it when she gave her inspirational TED talk. So obviously we’re REALLY loving that Ashley has been chosen as one of the cover models for this year’s legendary Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit edition.
— SI Swimsuit (@SI_Swimsuit) February 14, 2016
This is a big deal, guys. HUGE. Ashley is the very first size-16 model to appear on SI’s swimsuit cover. She’s obviously completely gorgeous and amazing in every way, and we’re thrilled to see her rocking a bikini on newsstands all over the world. Like it or not, the annual SI swimsuit edition is considered by many to be the ultimate standard of conventional feminine beauty. By embracing diversity in this way, Sports Illustrated is making a major statement. Women of any and all sizes are beautiful! As Graham told People, “I thought Sports Illustrated was taking a risk by putting a girl my size in the pages. But putting me on the cover? They aren’t just breaking barriers; they are the standard now. This is beyond epic.” The SI swimsuit issue has three different covers this year—the fabulous shot of Graham on the beach, a cover featuring UFC fighter Ronda Rousey and a third with two-time SI swimsuit model Hailey Clauson.
Props to Sports Illustrated for spreading the message that beauty doesn’t mean meeting any set criteria, whether fitting into a specific size or being a professional model. And props to Ashley for being an empowering role model for girls and women.
Inspiring young girls and women is something she strives to do through her modeling career. She says, “Girls who are insecure about their bodies, girls who feel fat, girls who have cellulite, girls who have stretch marks on their body — those are all the things that I had as a kid and I never had a woman like me growing up to look at. I had my mother and that’s one thing, but to have somebody who has cellulite, who has things that jiggle, who has back fat and talk about how you can be an overcomer and not let society take you down for all of that. That’s real.”
Congrats on the new cover, Ashley. You inspire us every day. We can’t wait to see what boundaries you’ll break next.