There was a time when people told Ashley Graham she would never be a cover girl. According to British Vogue, that's definitely not the case.
The longtime model just landed her first cover with the prestigious magazine for the January issue and the label that has often preceded her name, "plus size," is no where to be found.
Instead, British Vogue has deemed her "the model with attitude." After another year of breaking down size barriers and setting milestones in fashion, that attitude has cemented her—and the women she represents—in an industry that long ignored anyone over a size 12. While she initially made a name for herself in the world of plus size clothing, the 28-year-old body activist wants to do away with the term altogether.
"When we're supposed to be talking about diversity for women, it feels so divisive and purpose-defeating, giving us yet another label," she told the magazine.
Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated
As larger sizes make their way into the mainstream and Graham's stardom continues to rise, she is still never without critics, particularly ones who attack her for appearing to lose weight. She has since rebuffed such claims, but Graham does admit there was a time when she wanted her weight to whittle down.
"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. A lot of who I am is connected to my size, and I am so happy with who I am," she told the magazine.
She's transformed that strong personal identity into a lucrative brand with a judging gig on the revival of America's Next Top Model, collaborations with lingerie and dress retailers, her own Barbie doll and continuous high fashion magazine covers—proving her own business philosophy that a model needs more than good looks to thrive.
"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. See, if you have a pretty face doors will open, but your job isn't just to walk through them, it's to get invited back," she explained to the magazine.
"Look, 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?'"