You may have known Ashley Graham as a lingerie model for the plus-size US clothing store Lane Bryant. But you’ll probably remember her for something much more in future: Being the first plus-size model ever to go on a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover.
Together with MMA star Ronda Rousey and fashion model Hailey Clauson, the 29-year-old rules this year’s edition - she stars in one of three cover designs for the annual bikini special.
In an industry that is notorious for shunting anything that doesn’t fit into its Size 0 perspective, this is huge, primarily because it breaks new ground in helping to redefine the long-held notions of the body beautiful.
Following the announcement, body activist Graham Instagrammed: “Truly speechless!!! This cover is for every woman who felt like she wasn't beautiful enough because of her size. You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to. Thank you so much to the entire @si_swimsuit team! I'm so excited to be a part of your family. I love you all!!! #siswim #beautybeyondsize”.
According to the magazine’s assistant managing editor MJ Day, Graham was chosen for being “a sultry, feminine masterpiece...who owns her sexiness in a way that every woman should”. Day also said that beauty isn’t one-size-fits-all.
First, France’s introduction of a law that bans super skinny models; now this. Could the tide be changing? Only time will tell. Either way, we’d love to see more of Graham. Look out for her fronting Forever21’s latest plus-size activewear campaign, denim line NYDJ’s 2016 Fit To Be ad, and her own eponymous lingerie line.
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