“I had this huge makeup stain on the shoulder of my dress,” Ashley Graham tells us when we ask how her book tour is going. But it’s not an accident the first-time author is citing. Instead, the marks are from the women who hugged and cried to the model during the New York signing. “We need to have this conversation,” it made her realize while promoting A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty + Power Really Look Like, available this week. “We need more people who are talking about this because as small as they may seem to the rest of the world, weight and loving the skin you’re in really is a huge issue for women today.”
Body positivity and Graham kind of go hand in hand. Anyone with Instagram access—or a subscription to Vogue—knows that the 17-year industry vet (yes, her fashion career started at 12) speaks to the topic constantly. It’s woven into almost every part of her life. But that made us wonder: When you already have over four million followers on social media, filled with women (and men) inspired by what you represent, why put it on paper? Why now?
“It’s important to put in print. I put it all out there—I put my cellulite out there, I have talked about being in an interracial relationship, I talked about being called fat and not accepted by the industry,” she tells us, referencing some of the topics she talks about in her novel. ”Whether you’ve been told no, whether you’ve been sexually harassed, whether you’ve had an issue with food, whether you’ve been discouraged by your family and called ugly, I have been there. And I have gotten exactly where I’ve want to be. I don’t want women to look at themselves and think they can’t do something because of the way that they look.”
Ashley Graham A New Model ($19)
The model’s memoir is far from a girl-next-door to cover-star tale—it walks through every behind-the-scenes (and some not-so-much) struggle she’s faced as she’s become the self-love inspiration she is today. She tells us it was easy to write about the fashion industry, including stories about coming to New York for the first time and becoming friends with other early ’00s curvy models, like Crystal Renn. “The harder parts were talking about my family and my husband and making sure that I was being respectful. There are people who I love in the story.”
Even though A New Model tells us more about Graham than any other fashion girl we follow on Instagram, her book is more of a new jumping off point than an end goal. “I think I’m about to sign another deal,” she says when we ask about book number two. “As far as a memoir, I’ve tackled that, but I still have a lot more to say.” And beyond print, there’s also much more to come. “I’m also in the midst of creating the bigger brand—the Ashley Graham brand.”
It’s in this future launch that Graham says she’ll finally be able to present her ideal line of sexy and cool clothing, including activewear, for women who have curves. She can’t confirm a time, but she assures us it’s a work in progress, as she’s figuring out the nitty gritty of launching her own label. “You’d be surprised what you got to do to get it, girl.” But having read her book, we’re pretty convinced it’s nothing she can’t handle.
A New Model is available now. Up next, read on for four fashion insiders’ takes on what body diversity means in the media.