Ashley Graham Talks Breaking Barriers With British Vogue Cover and Continuing "Mission of Beauty Beyond Size"

The 28-year-old is the first model considered to be "plus-size" to grave the cover of a Vogue magazine

By Corinne Heller Dec 21, 2016 5:12 PMTags

Ashley Graham is proud to be changing lives by breaking beauty barriers.

The 28-year-old, 5'9" curvy model appears on the cover of British Vogue's January issue, breaking a trend most fashion magazines had adopted for decades. Like its competition, all editions of Vogue have for decades shined the spotlight almost solely on women under a size 12. And not only did Graham score a cover, but the outlet also makes no mention of the two words she hates: "plus-size."

"The most rewarding part about the honor of being British Vogue's January cover girl is knowing how many lives we are changing," Graham, who also appeared on other magazine covers for the first time earlier this year, wrote in an essay posted Wednesday on the outlet's website. 

Ashley Graham Wears Addition Elle Lingerie on Subway

Graham says she has been "hearing from thousands of women that they don't feel invisible anymore, that they now feel that they have gotten their seat at the table."

"I feel even more inclined to continue my mission of beauty beyond size with the support of Vogue," she said.

"That's why this barrier-breaking cover means so much to me," Graham continued. "Not just because I get to see myself gracing this British Vogue cover, but for all the women who have heard 'no' all of their life. This is a triumph for us all, and a beautiful demonstration of how we used our voices to create change, because loving ourselves at every size and shape is not a crime, it's a right."

Graham's British Vogue cover was not without controversy. Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Shulman said earlier this month some designers "flatly refused" to dress the model for the shoot. 

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for VH1

This year, Graham became the first curvy model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, as one of three women chosen for the honor. The cover drew criticism from former Sports Illustrated model Cheryl Tiegs, who said the outlet was promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. The size 16 model had made her debut in the annual publication last year in a swimsuitsforall ad.

Also earlier this year, Graham became the first curvy model to appear on the cover of Maxim. Many people suspected Photoshop was used to make her appear slimmer. Graham said she was "not slimmed down on the cover" and that the photographer "did an amazing job" capturing her "true figure."

Graham has also graced the covers of GlamourCosmopolitan and ELLE Canada, which was also accused of airbrushing her photos. She has also served as a judge on America's Next Top Model, has launched her own lingerie collections and even has her own Barbie doll.

"This past year has been a whirlwind of wins—I've continued to make strides in championing beautiful curvy women and I now have my own Barbie that is measured to my own standard of perfection," Graham wrote in British Vogue. "I've been confident enough to speak up and show out for the curvy girls of the world, and I encourage more women to do so as well—to own your bodies unapologetically."

"We've set the tone for 2017," she said. "We have more work to do, but we've declared that thick or thin, beauty beyond size is our future."