I actually have a pretty strong tacky streak, so I enjoy a good animal print. There was a Gucci leopard-print coat that I lusted over many years back, thinking that if only I owned that coat, my life would be so much better. I would also love to have some animal-print throw pillows, and I would go so far as to get an animal print duvet if I found a really cute one. But this NY Magazine cover? It’s too much. Ashley Graham is being drowned in leopard spots. She’s actually being camouflaged, which completely ruins the idea of putting a fuller-figure woman on a magazine cover. Sigh… anyway, you can read Ashley’s profile here at The Cut. She talks about a lot of the same stuff she always talks about. Some highlights:
On why she hates the word “plus-size:” Graham hates it because she thinks there’s an inherent implication of a dividing line between the “normal”-bodied and the “other.” “It’s like, ‘Plus what?’ That’s something I’ve always been told: ‘You’re not good enough because you’re plus-size.’ I’m not here to ban the word from the dictionary” — plenty of women own and love it. She prefers curvy or curve.
Curvy women-of-color model friends of hers like Marquita Pring and Precious Lee aren’t getting the same opportunities. “I know I’m on this pedestal because of white privilege. To not see black or Latina women as famous in my industry is crazy! I have to talk about it. I want to give those women kudos because they are the ones who paved the way for me.”
On skipping the Met Gala, and borrowing clothing from designers: Graham actually had been “on hold” (a prelude to an invitation) for the Met Gala the year before but ended up staying home. “I couldn’t get a designer to dress me. You can’t just show up in jeans and a T-shirt.”
Her husband: Until she met him, Graham had always gravitated toward bigger guys. Now, she says, “my husband weighs less than me, but he feels bigger than me.” She even tested him out by having him toss her around in different positions before they were having sex.
On why being famous for her size kind of sucks, too: On the subway (she lives in brownstone Brooklyn), she’s often inundated with women coming up to her. “They see me and go, ‘If I had a girl when I was in high school talk the way you talk about your body, my life would be different.’ ” More difficult to navigate, though, is that “people look at my size now and know that’s what makes me famous. That kind of sucks, too, because it’s like, ‘Damn, my size is what makes me famous?’ This is the thing: I know I’m paving the way for the next generation of girls, and they’re not going to have to do this. That’s what I hope. I’ll take the brunt work and just handle it, and then you guys can just sail right on through.”
I rolled my eyes a little bit at the idea that Ashley is, like, The Pioneer Big Girl. While plus-sized models have always existed – mostly serving what was perceived as a niche audience – Ashley is sort of right about being the first one to really get this kind of profile. She’s like the crossover plus-sized model. And yes, she’s had so much success because of white privilege. At least she acknowledges it.
Cover courtesy of NY Magazine, additional photos courtesy of WENN.