From her Instagram page to her media interviews, Ashley Graham has proven time and again that she's committed to beingÂ body-positive and size-inclusive. Now, the Vogue and Sports Illustrated cover model's just-releasedÂ memoir, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like,Â gives fans a deeper look at her life and values. In the book, Graham recalls the experiences that inspired her, from the momentÂ she decided that she didnât need approval from others to what made her fall in love with fitness.
On tapping into inner strength
âAs hard as it is, owning who you are and knowing what you want is the only sure path to affirmation...I want women to know they can get out of any situation if they return to their core source of strength: themselves.â
On the real definition of âhealthyâ
âYou canât change your body for a moment or an event, like getting married. Iâm all for making lifestyle changes based on long-term goals or health decisions. But if you diet or exercise just for a date or high school reunion, you will never be happy with the results.â
âIâm simply not able to adhere to rules around deprivation when it comes to food. Iâm going to want what I want. Just not as much of it. There are weeks when Iâm really good about making the right choices. And trust me; there are weeks where I eat everything I want, in not such a good way. But I no longer carry such a heavy sense of guilt, because I feel Iâve found a good balance most of the time.â
âThe biggest misconception is that the purpose of going to the gym is to change your body. We should be working out to be healthy. The idea of physical transformation can be so defeating for some women, because it is subjective (not to mention that people are overly critical when they look in the mirror.)Â Even if your body doesnât change in the course of a year, it doesnât matter: your fitness level will.â
On defying beauty norms
âIt shouldnât be okay for designers, who can make whatever they can dream up in their heads, to keep larger women out of their clothesâor for buyers to tell us how we will and wonât spend our money.â
âToo fat, too thin, too loud, too quiet, I was never going to fit the standards others created for me. Instead of complying, I protested.â
âI put myself out there, trying to prove that beauty is beyond size. It was risky, sure, but what I risked in terms of personal pride was nothing in comparison to what I was rewarded in terms of personal fulfillment.â
On why women should supportÂ one another
âWomen get women. We understand each other when we are happy or sad, when we have our period, start a new job, or fall in love. We are typically the caretakers. Letâs take care of each other, start building each other up.â
On being a role model
"I wanted to be appealingâthe girl you can trust and really talk toâso I vowed to myself early on that I would not belittle myself, no matter what anyone else said to me or how I felt about myself, privately."
âMy [Sports Illustrated Swimsuit] cover proved that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. There is no one standard for gorgeous.â