Ashley Graham has become one of the most well-known faces of the body positivity movement. As a curvy, plus-size model, Graham has a unique chance to speak out for women who don’t necessarily fit the stereotype of the fashion world definition of beauty.
However, as her recent interview with People shows, Graham is still a celebrity first–not an activist. Lauren Gordon wrote a response to this interview on CafeMom, talking with other women who are body-positivity activists and getting their reactions.
What did Graham say that ignited such a response? A pretty simple statement. One that many of us have made without thinking: “There are some days I feel fat”. While all of us think negative thoughts every once and awhile, it’s only human. It was disheartening to some to hear it from a body positivity role model.
In addition to this controversy, Graham has also refused to term herself “plus-size.” She referred to herself as “my-size” in a TED talk she gave in May 2015. In an interview promoting her new book, she said that “plus-size” was a “divisive” term that women only used as a “defense mechanism.”
Melissa Gibson commented in her interview with CafeMom that Graham, despite being plus-size, has continued to distance herself from the plus-size community, using her platform to promote “diet culture” and “exclude fat people from access to her clothing and swim lines.”
There is a tendency to see plus-size celebrities and assume they are body-positive simply because they are plus size. This is not always the case. Even among plus-size women, there are still some who have an advantage. Graham, for example, has a body type that still allows her to fit many of the expectations. As Gibson said, “[Graham] has never acknowledged her body shape privilege in her success.”
Of course, Ashley Graham’s success as a model is a step in the right direction. She has had to work hard to achieve all that she has. And she has made progress that the modeling industry desperately needs. However, that change is not there yet. Until women of all shapes, sizes, abilities, and colors are recognized. Then there will always be progress to be made.