Ashley Graham Hopes All Girls Find the Beauty in ''Cellulite'' and ''Thighs That Jiggle''

Sports Illustrated cover model talks loving her body
By Kendall Fisher Feb 18, 2016 9:42 PMTags
Ashley Graham, Sports Illustrated PartyErik Pendzich/REX Shutterstock

Sports Illustrated's 2016 Swimsuit Issue cover girl and plus-size model, Ashley Graham, has a few words for all the agents who doubted her due to her body image: "Look at me now!"

Yes, the gorgeous 28-year-old caught up with E! News at the debut party for the sexy swimsuit issue in New York City, where she gushed to us over how excited she is to have been given the opportunity—not only for herself, but for young girls who are struggling with body image issues, too.

Related: Ashley Graham on Becoming "Sports Illustrated" Cover Model

"I had agents tell me, 'You'll never get on the cover of magazines. You'll never be an editorial model,'" she revealed to us. "I had agents wave money in my face and say, 'If you drop some pounds, you can have a lot more of this!' And not even THAT was something that encouraged me to lose weight!"

She continued, "The moment I realized I had to be healthy and happy in who I was, that's when my career took off."

But being the face of a swimsuit magazine isn't just a major feat for her—it's a huge breakthrough for all women, especially young girls.

Sports Illustrated

"I am hopefully going to change the lives of so many different young women," she said. "So many young women who have been told that their cellulite is ugly; that their inner-thighs that jiggle and touch are ugly because I have all those things, and I'm on the cover of Sports Illustrated. So they must be beautiful!"

One suggestion she gives to anyone struggling with body image is to repeat a phrase her mom used to say to her: "My mother had instilled a lot of confidence in me. She had said, 'You are bold. You are brilliant, and you are beautiful.' And those are the things I had to tell myself again after I had gained weight in a very healthy way."

She added, "Now I'm really proud of the woman I've become, 'flaws' and all."

Check out her full, inspiring video above!