Ashley Graham may have killer self-confidence now—but it didn't come easy. The supermodel has been dealing with body-shamers her entire life, including in past relationships.
Graham, 29, opened up at the Urban Arts Partnership 25th anniversary benefit about how critics have shamed her for her curves since she was a teen, so she can relate when girls open up to her about their personal experiences with body-shaming. "Nothing's actually surprised me," she told People. "I've lived exactly what they're living."
Graham also revealed that being a world-famous model hasn't spared her from society's name-calling or heartache in her love life in the past. (She's been married to her husband, Justin Ervin, since 2010.) "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," she continued. "It's the same cycle; it doesn't matter what generation we are in. Every kid is going to go through the same thing."
She's also not immune from having her moments of self-doubt. "I wake up sometimes and I think, 'I'm the fattest woman alive.' But it's really about how you handle it when you wake up," Graham said. "I look in the mirror and I have my affirmations. And mine are simple. [I say,] 'You are bold. You are brilliant and you are beautiful.' And then if my lower pooch is really puffing out that day, I say, 'Lower pooch, you are cute.' And we have a moment. And if the hips are really popping I say, 'I love you too, hips.'"
Along with these personal affirmations, Graham hopes that seeing more size diversity in the fashion industry will help young girls with their body confidence. "Having more role models, more women who are like, 'Yea, I have cellulite. Yea, it's even on my arms, not just my legs. My butt is a really bizarre shape, but you know what—whatever, I'm just going to go rock it.' I think if we had more role models like that that, that were really just speaking their truth about their body and the skin that they're in then maybe young America would be different," she said.
This isn't the first time that Graham has advocated for or spoke out about body-positivity. She's posted photos of her cellulite to prove everyone has "lumps and bumps," posed nude to inspire confidence, and even has her own Barbie doll—sans thigh gap. But she's not stopping anytime soon: "There still is so much...that needs to happen behind the scenes," she said.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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