Naomi Campbell defended Ashley Graham after another model concern-trolled her weight
Trolls: Celebrities can be them, too! On a recent episode of Naomi Campbell‘s YouTube show, Ashley Graham opened up about when another famous model concern-trolled her weight. The incident occurred when Graham appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2016. Naomi Campbell defended Graham back in 2016, and she continues to defend her now.
Graham made Sports Illustrated history by becoming the first size 16 model to make the cover. It was a huge moment for Graham personally, of course, but it was also significant for a notoriously non-inclusive industry. But not everyone in the modeling industry reacted positively.
On Campbell’s show, No Filter with Naomi, Graham recalled meeting Campbell for the first time at the CFDA Fashion Awards soon after the magazine issue was released.
“It was right after the cover that I met you,” Graham said. “We were walking onto a red carpet, and we had had a quick conversation because there was another model who was so upset that I had gotten the cover.”
Graham continued: “She said that I was ‘very large,’ and women my size should not be on the cover.”
It seemed that Campbell didn’t remember having that conversation. (It’s fine; we would imagine she has a lot of conversations.) So she asked, “Who was that?”
“You can go look it up,” Graham said. “She was before your generation…[her name] begins with a C. But you had told me, ‘I just want to let you know that I was talking about you, and I defended you.’ And I was like, ‘First of all, I’m meeting Naomi Campbell for the first time, and she just defended me. Heart is racing! Thank you!’”
Graham is likely referring to model Cheryl Tiegs. Tiegs reportedly made body-shaming comments about Graham’s SI cover back in 2016. According to Vogue UK, Teigs had said to E! Online, “I don’t like that we’re talking about full-figured women because it’s glamorizing them. Your waist should be smaller than 35 inches. I don’t think it’s healthy. Her face is beautiful. Beautiful. But I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run.”
Soon after, Campbell spoke up in Graham’s defense on Sway Calloway’s radio show. “I wouldn’t comment on someone’s size. I just think it’s wrong.”
“I think she’s a beautiful woman, regardless what color or creed,” the supermodel added. “She should be able to model.”
Now, on her own talk show, Campbell confirmed that she would say the same thing again. “Well, I’ll defend you again right now, because I don’t think that person had the right to say that.”
“It’s your time now,” Campbell said to Graham.
Since her SI cover, Graham has become a leading voice in the body acceptance and inclusivity movement. We’d love to think that Campbell’s defense motivated Graham to become the champion of body image and female empowerment that she is today. Such is the power of women supporting women. But it can’t hurt if that woman happens to be Naomi Campbell.