“Plus-size” model, Ashley Graham, has made a splash in the fashion world over the past few years—and she’s attributing that success to her faith.
Graham candidly told Harper’s Bazaar UK that her Christian upbringing and strong personal faith has and continues to impact her personal and professional decisions.
“My faith has given me the strength to say ‘no.’ If I’m not comfortable, or if something doesn’t align with my mission, then I’m not participating. My faith is my balance,” she told the magazine.
Although she doesn’t shy away from sometimes-revealing bikini photos that showcase her curvy figure, she uses the photos as a way to promote her mission, something that she feels is a calling from God. “Growing up in a Christian household, I was constantly questioning what my purpose in life was. I believe it’s changing the fashion industry.”
“I’ve always been very honest in sharing the insecurities I have,” Graham maintained. “Cellulite, back fat. … It opened a door for other women to share their insecurities. If we all feel the same way, why are we stressing about it? I’ve never gone to therapy but having these conversations really does help.”
“[But] when I look in the mirror now, I see a fearless woman,” she continued. “I see a leader. I see a bold, hard-working woman who has turned ‘no’ into ‘yes.’ I also see an intelligent woman who has turned ‘no’ into ‘yes.’ I also see an intelligent woman who doesn’t let insecurities or challenges hold her back. I recognize my round arms, my cellulite, my belly, my beautiful curves and I also recognize that I’m celebrating them and embracing them.”
Over the years, Graham has become a successful supermodel, speaker, TV presenter, writer, designer, podcast host and activist—using her platform to find opportunities for what she calls “teachable moments,” where she can respond to hateful comments about her body through promoting her mission.
Graham has also been open about the hate and prejudice she and her husband of nine years face as an interacial couple—from hateful emails to men spitting on her husband when they stepped out in public while traveling abroad.
“I see what my husband has to go through every day. We had gone to Italy, and a man spat on him. It’s heartbreaking. It can make you really angry. But it’s like, how are you going to change that anger into a teachable moment?” she told the July issue of Allure.
Despite the blatant racism they face for their interracial marriage, Graham and her husband work to stay active in their prayer life as a couple.
“My husband and I like to pray together because in the Bible it talks about when two or more are gathered, God is in the midst. Whatever your higher power or beliefs, I think it’s important to have that quiet moment of reflection,” she said.
“And if anyone can get me into Kanye West’s Sunday Service, I’ll be on the plane to LA,” she good-naturedly added. “I need to go have some worship.”