When we reach Ashley Graham over the phone, the model is fresh off a flight from Montreal, where she was shooting Addition Elle’s fall campaign. This is her 15th season with the brand. She first started working with Addition Elle when she was 16; since then, she has collaborated on designing a trendy lingerie collection and played a major role in helping transform the face of the modelling industry to be more inclusive and diverse.
“I’ve always been different—too loud, too driven,” says Graham. “I like to take on projects for the woman who doesn’t fit in because I know exactly how she feels.” These days, Graham, who is polite and down-to-earth (she actually thanked us for taking the time to chat), is comfortable with calling herself a role model: “Having women in their 20s and 30s come up to me and say they have more confidence is an amazing, amazing feeling.” Another great feeling? Walking the Michael Kors fall/winter 2017 show at New York Fashion Week. “Michael made a huge statement,” she says. “He has carried plus sizes for so long, but to actually have the representation on the runway was a big deal.”
As the 29-year-old reflects on a whirlwind year (a TEDTalk and a newly published memoir are just two of the highlights), she reveals that it was all on her vision board—yes, she keeps an actual vision board. Sometimes she’s momentarily awestruck by this dreams-really-do-come-true realization. “I just stare at it and think ‘Holy moly!’” she says. “Giving my time to tell people to love the skin they’re in—those are the pivotal moments I cherish.”
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