Ashley Graham's year of crushing has no signs of slowing down. After becoming the first plus-size model to appear in an ad in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in 2015 and a TED Talk that went viral, Graham is now making sure young women are getting the message.
After being asked by a camper-turned-counselor to visit Camp Pocono Trails, a weight-loss retreat in Pennsylvania, Graham delivered an empowering talk to the young women, who range in age from 7 to 21, about how she wasn't always the poster child for self-confidence.
According to Yahoo, the Nebraska native (along with fellow plus-size models Julie Henderson, Marquita Pring, and Jenn Maitland) shared her secret for gaining self-esteem, telling campers that she used to look in the mirror and think, "You are so ugly, you are so fat, this is disgusting."
It took a light-bulb moment for her to realize that she was holding herself back. "It hit me one day," she said. "I said, 'What am I doing? My mom didn't raise me like this. My aunt did not raise me like this.'"
Once she realized her attitude was self-destructive, the model, who recently launched her own lingerie line, Addition Elle, changed her outlook and focused on loving herself for who she is. "I read in a book that, if I actually looked myself in the mirror and said, ['I am beautiful, and I do have a great body,'] and meant it every day, it was going to happen. I started loving my body, I started working out and taking care of myself," Graham said.
Graham also told campers it's important to note that this process isn't a "trick." "I didn't trick myself. I told myself, 'This is changing, you are beautiful, you are worth it,'" she said, "No man, no job, no friend is going to tell me who I am—I'm going to tell me who I am."
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