When her swimwear ad for the 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was revealed on Feb. 4, Ashley Graham officially became the first plus-size model to appear in the mag’s annual edition of bikinis, curves, and sex appeal.
Below, Us Weekly rounded up five facts about the Nebraska native, 27, who’s making a name for herself not just for her gorgeous figure but for her positive message as well.
1. She has cellulite, and that’s okay.
“It’s cellulite city back there,” Graham, who’s also appeared in Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar, told Huffington Post.
While she’s proud of her curves, and her body, she’s okay with a little retouching now and then. “I’m thankful that they take that out for photo shoots,” she said. “A little bit is fine, and there’s a time and a place for it. On the other hand, if you’re forming my body into something it’s not, I’m not okay with that.”
2. She starred in a commercial that was once banned from television.
Graham’s 2010 sexy lingerie commercial for Lane Bryant was reportedly banned from Fox and ABC. “The Victoria’s Secret girls can flaunt around their panties all day long, but when there’s a bigger woman with a little bit extra, they snipped it out immediately,” she told WPIX at the time. After criticism from the plus-size company — and public backlash — Fox agreed to air the ad during the last 10 minutes of American Idol.
3. Graham blasted Hollywood for glorifying Jennifer Lawrence‘s curves.
“Jennifer Lawrence is the media’s poster girl for curves — she’s tiny,” Graham told The Edit. “There needs to be more education in schools, because that’s where eating disorders start. It’s not just about being healthy; it’s also about loving who you are.”
4. Her first modeling gig was for lingerie… when she was a tween.
“My very first modeling shot was in a bra, when I was 12 years old,” she told Net-a-Porter. “My mom had to sign a waiver that they would airbrush my nipples out.” After landing a contract with Wilhelmina, Graham, who was then a US size 10, went on to be the first model for Jennifer Lopez’s plus-size clothing range.
5. Graham’s mother is a huge support system for her.
“My mom is a very encouraging woman. My whole life she told me, ‘You have to love who are. You have an amazing personality, you have a great heart. Just be who you are,'” Graham told Net-a-Porter.
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