By Jenni Sellan

HISTORICALLY self esteem and body confidence messages offered from the fashion industry have largely fallen on deaf ears; the industry given very little credibility in this space and the point considered moot and pure tokenism coming from a world that has long been criticised for its restrictive definition of beauty.

To add to it’s perceived insincerity, for many years it seemed the industry was apathetic to the issue, but with increasing persistence and as the influential voices on this matter have become more and more dominant, reconsidering it’s position and the outward expression around self esteem and body confidence become inevitable.

And while the number of voices weighing in has increased, there is one in particular that has created quite the sound.

Hello famous plus size model, Ashley Graham. Possessing all the notoriety of a top model, the road to her success has been 17 years long with the last 3 catapulting her into an entirely new space.

She speaks her audacious message loud and clear and it seems to be a mandate over her life because doors are swinging wide open in the most unlikely of places; the seemingly insurmountable, made possible.

To refer to Ashley as a Model and Body Activist feels a little shy of her achievements and to say this 30-year-old has accomplished what some would have thought absurd, an understatement.

Signed with the world’s number one modelling agency, IMG, this beauty has fronted numerous covers including Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Elle, and to the envy (and also criticism) of many, the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, made even more significant as the first size 14 model to do so.

famous plus size
famous plus size
famous plus size

A brilliant public speaker, she exudes confidence and captivates on the platform including the sought after Ted talks stage; A published author, she was named in BOF’s top 100 most influential people and has been included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list. She boasts her own lingerie and swimwear labels and has hinted at cosmetics and accessory lines to follow and in 2017 she made headlines again as she walked the runway for Michael Kors at New York Fashion Week.

This girl is literally turning the fashion world upside down and is giving us something new to talk about.

famous plus size
famous plus size

Initially the conversation may very well have been about cellulite and “no gap” thighs, but Graham has cleverly diverted enough attention away from her curves, to open up an entirely new conversation (a conversations that fashion, had previously not been invited to be a part of).

Her message is simple, ‘beauty beyond size’, free from boundaries and where fashion has long promoted a singular thought around what beauty looks like, Ashley Graham has added a whole new dimension to that and it would seem that the industry has inclined their ear toward it.

See it wasn’t just Ashley that walked the runway in New York, she stood amongst 26 other models who were not the usual sample size, because she was invited to stand alongside Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Liu Wen, Imaan Hammam, Adwoa Aboah and Vittoria Ceretti for Vogue, and because Sports Illustrated were finally enlightened to the fact that their readers did want to see someone and something new…the list goes on.

Diversity. No longer a token word thrown about by the industry but a concept that is becoming, albeit slowly, very much a part of it and maybe eventually, it will become a part of it’s “normal” and if you think that’s an outrageous statement, just take another look at Ashley Graham’s Sports Illustrated Cover…. she is proving the impossible possible.

Ashley Graham. A true ‘super’ model. Fashion’s very own heroine and one we can all embrace as mentor and muse! 

“You are Bold. You are Brilliant. You are Beautiful. You are worth of anything you want to accomplish. That is beauty beyond size and that never fails”.

Ashley Graham