How Ashley Graham Has Inspired Change in My Life

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been a bit bigger for my size. I can remember being 11 years old and telling myself I was going to spend that summer trying to lose 15 pounds. My size has always been one of my biggest insecurities.

In 2016, Ashley Graham became the first curvy model to ever grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. She made worldwide news, and women everywhere felt empowered about their bodies. I was a sophomore in high school and stunned that someone my size could feel so confident and empowered about themselves; because I sure as heck didn’t.

Graham made waves as a model who was reclaiming her size and her image. She didn’t want to be known as a “plus-size” model, she wanted to be known as curvy, and didn’t think the number on her pants should place her in an entirely different category than her peers. After seeing all of this splashed across the media I began making steps towards being able to love and reclaim my body in my own ways.

Learning to love my body was a difficult process that I am still working on. It has its bad days and its worse days, but it has been such a rewarding process. Being able to look and see curvy models like Graham nail magazine covers and editorials have been so inspirational to my journey. Her movement has genuinely had such a positive impact on my life.

 

In the almost three years since she shook the world, I hadn’t thought much of her; she was a popular model and a huge feminist but nothing she had done had quite empowered me in ways beyond those things. In fact, going into HC at WVU's watch party of Graham's interview with the New York Times, I expected to hear the same things about body positivity and self-confidence as usual. However, she made a few statements that went beyond body positivity and really stuck with me.

During her interview, Graham spoke on more than just being a curvy model and spreading body positivity; she also spoke a lot on how to have a better work and business ethics to help cultivate her success. She is a very successful businesswoman and spoke a lot on being a more successful woman. The quote that stood out the most to me was, “Not everything is going to be yours. If you think that you deserve something you probably don’t.” This line was a huge wakeup call for me.

 

I have spent a lot of my time working just hard enough on things that I believed the next step was owed to me. If I worked hard enough in this organization, I deserved an executive position in that organization. If I worked hard enough at my job, then surely I must deserve a promotion. This mindset has been a very toxic one to have and I have since decided to change my tune on life. Working to get a better position or a new job is not a bad outlook, but thinking you are owed something since you put a certain amount of time into it is simply an unhealthy way to go about life.

Since listening to her discussion at the New York Times Event, I have decided that if I truly work hard enough for something, it will come to me if I actually deserve it. Graham is an amazing role model for women everywhere and has taught us that it is just as important to be proud of your work ethic and success as you are with your body and self-confidence. Remember, success is sexy, too.