Ashley Graham’s book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty & Power Really Look Like, was released on May 9, 2017 and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I actually pre-ordered the book twice: once on Amazon, and then deleted that preorder to order an autographed addition from a Brooklyn book shop. As a plus-size woman on the journey to self-love and body-acceptance, I cannot put into words how important this book is to me or how much this book, and Ashley herself, mean to me. I read the book in two sittings (it would have been an all nighter if I didn’t have work). It took me a little while to get to it because life got in the way, but I honestly am obsessed with this book. I know that I will be rereading it again in the near future.
Ashley Graham, if you don’t already know, is a model and body-positivity activist. She’s curvy, she’s sexy, she’s drop-dead gorgeous, and she’s a (US) size 14-16. I first learned about Ashley when news broke about Sports Illustrated featuring a plus size model in a SwimsuitsForAll advertisement.
Since seeing Ashley at that moment, I knew she would always be my woman crush. She’s gorgeous and confident and if she can be referred to as sexy, than maybe my curvy self could be referred to as sexy one day, too.
A New Model made me cry numerous times. I cried in awe of Ashley’s journey, mostly because a lot of her internal and weight struggles are very similar to mine.
In her Introduction (titled “My (Cellulite) Revolution”), Ashley writes that, “This is the generation of body diversity. We are sick of being told by society, by the fashion industry, by Hollywood, that we are too thin, too fat, too flabby, too tall, too small. Being a woman in the United States now almost definitely means hating at least a part of your body, if not all of it. As a woman unafraid of celebrating my thick thighs in public, I’ve made it my goal to help others embrace, even love themselves, stretch marks and all,” (Graham x).
That has to be the perfect summary of Ashley as a body activist. She truly embraces her body and her “imperfections”, inspiring her fans and followers to do the same.
Ashley’s uses her book as a vehicle to get the message across that, “Numbers are abstract. It’s the human reactions to them that cause the hurt,” (Graham 61). For Ashley and for many women around the globe, weight loss is an “uphill battle” involving a lot of self-inflicted pressure. I completely relate to Ashley when she reveals reflection about how her “best friend loses weight when she gets depressed. Me? I gain it, and then it takes me ages to get the weight off,” (Graham 63). Me too, Ashley. Me too.
Ashley Graham is a much stronger woman than I am. I know that by learning from her journey to confidence and self-love, that I, too, can become confident and brave and strong and powerful. I can learn to love myself. I can become a healthier individual. I can wear bikinis and feel amazing (in fact, as I write this blog, I am wearing one of my new Torrid bikinis). I can become a model for other girls and women. I can and I will do anything I set my mind to, and Ashley’s book validated that for me. If someone asked me to rate Ashley’s book on a scale of 1-10, she’d get a perfect 10. It’s personal, yet relatable. It’s powerful. It’s inspiring. I love it, and I love her. Get your hands on a copy of A New Model, because you’ll learn a lot about body positivity and hopefully be inspired to love yourself and your “flaws.” I know I did.