We need to work together to redefine the global image of beauty and continue to push for a more inclusive world.
My theory is that big underwear makes big girls look bigger.
Honestly, at the end of the day, what I want women to know is that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. And that it should not define who you are.
The really hard moment was when my dad said, 'Honey, if an agent is telling you to lose weight, then maybe you should lose weight.' I was 15, standing in our living room, having a moment I will never forget. I never had a parent tell me to lose weight, and it hurt.
People want to see themselves in the industry that, for so long, has ostracized girls of my size.
I felt free once I realized I was never going to fit the narrow mold society wanted me to fit in.
There's no such thing as being perfect, and that doesn't just mean the perfect body.
I think that when you use the word 'plus-size,' you're putting all these women in a category: 'You don't eat well.' 'You don't work out.' 'You could care less about your body.' 'You're insecure.' 'You have no confidence.'
I don't think guys judge curvy women as much as women do. It shocks me how catty some women can be. In my whole life, I only had one guy break up with me over weight.
One thing my mother did is that she never looked in the mirror and said, 'I'm so fat,'or 'I'm so ugly. I need to go on a diet.' Projecting that onto yourself is only going to make your daughter or son think that of themselves. Because they're a product of you.
I believe that we're all here for a purpose and that one of my biggest ones is to help people understand that they're beautiful.
My mom's parents were farmers, so every summer, my sisters and I would help out, hauling pipe and pulling maggots off the corn. We hated it, but it taught me the meaning of good hard work.
My mom is the most positive person. She has always had a smile on her face no matter what came her way. After seeing that, I'm not going to let a little cellulite get in the way of my happiness!
Words have power, and if you are going to use your words negatively, then that is exactly what is going to happen in your life.
I was called the girl that was 'pretty for a big girl,' 'the fat model.'
The sum total of what I learned about African American culture in school was Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Underground Railroad. This was more than my mom knew; she didn't even see a black person in real life until she was 18 years old.
I'm being my real raw self, and that's what I always preach anyway. What you see is what you get.
There are some days I feel fat. I'm not convinced there's going to be a moment where every woman in the world wakes up and feels like a million dollars. So, what I want to do is give women the tools that will help when those moments come up. Sometimes it can be as easy as telling yourself that you are beautiful.
For 10 years, I'd been told I was always going to be a catalogue girl, never a cover girl. Well, I got with IMG and did five covers in a year, boom, boom, boom.
Confidence starts at home, and something my mother never did was look in the mirror and say she was ugly or fat.
I've lived the torment of the names. I've lived the torment of boyfriends breaking up with me because they were afraid I was going to be too fat later in life.
Too fat, too thin, too loud, too quiet - I was never going to fit the standards others created for me. Instead of complying, I protested.
Growing up, I had my mom to look up to; J. Lo and Marilyn Monroe were notable curvy women. But I didn't have anyone with cellulite or back fat telling me they didn't care.
I used to be bound by people who placed limits on what they thought I could do. Through that, I learned that if you want something, you have to be the one to go out and do it. If you don't ask for something, you're not going to get it.
I tried every diet, from living on cabbage soup to fasting to Weight Watchers, and then came the frozen meals and the shakes. I realized that the more I took care of my body, eating what was good for me, then I felt happy and whole.
I'm giving curvy women a seat at a table that we've never been invited to before - a table with high-end fashion people who have never considered us beautiful.
I wasn't put on the cover of 'Sports Illustrated' as a plus-size model; I was put on the cover of 'Sports Illustrated' as a model, as a rookie, as Ashley Graham.
I am just like any other woman, and I think I am the 'fattest woman alive' - but it is really about how you handle your situation.
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'm a confident woman with thick skin, and as a model in the public eye, I'm conditioned to accept criticism.
You can be sexy and feel good in your skin, no matter what size you are.
I have been so blessed not only to talk about things that I want to talk about in my industry, but also to have a platform - and people want to hear about it.
I'm a woman of faith. And I really believe that if I say, 'God, this is what I want,' He says, 'I'll give you your desires, as long as they line up with My will.'
Do I sometimes wish I were thinner? God, in the old days, absolutely I did, but now I feel that to lose weight would be disloyal to myself.
There are reasons to set boundaries for yourself, but there are also reasons to keep doors open.
When I post a photo from a 'good angle,' I receive criticism for looking smaller and selling out. When I post photos showing my cellulite, stretch marks, and rolls, I'm accused of promoting obesity.
The runway isn't just about showing fashion, it's about gaining confidence. And I really believe that once you've got your confidence, you can wear anything, you can do anything.
It doesn't matter what size your hips are when you measure them. It's about, 'Do you feel good and healthy in those hips?'
When I'm traveling out of the country, a lot of guys give me a high five, and then they're like, 'I love your work!'
To some, I'm too curvy. To others, I'm too tall, too busty, too loud, and, now, too small - too much, but at the same time not enough.
I think that no woman has to defend her body, and she should just live her truth. It should never be about the number size of her pants, and it should be about what you're doing in the world. What does her brain look like and not her hip size.
People will run up to me with tears in their eyes and say, 'You're Ashley Graham?' and I match their enthusiasm and respond, 'Yes, I am!' and all they say is, 'Thank you so much.'
I hit the beauty jackpot, I get it, but that's not enough: you've got to have more to have longevity in this business. It's always been, 'OK, so what can I do now?'
I remember being told by my very first photographer that if I lost weight, and I was a skinny model, it would do wonders for my career. My mum got really defensive - 'I don't think we will be doing that, thank you so much, goodbye.'