Ashley Graham made a splash when she became the first plus-size woman to pose on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue in 2016. She's also the creator of stunning swimsuits for plus-size women (swimsuitsforall), and continues to inspire women of all shapes and sizes as they navigate a world that's often critical of the female form.
Recent photographs posted by Graham to her Instagram account have fans wondering if she's dropping weight, though, and there have been numerous comments from followers who aren't happy about that perceived weight loss. Graham, not one to shy away from discussions on body shaming, took the recent criticisms as an opportunity to pen a heartfelt letter. The letter was posted on Lena Dunham's website, Lenny, and is titled "Shamed If I Do, Shamed If I Don't."
In it, she writes, "Social media has given me a voice and allowed me to further my platform as a body activist... I know the comments won't all be positive. I'm a confident woman with thick skin, and as a model in the public eye, I'm conditioned to accept criticism. But last week, I admit that I had a tougher time brushing off the haters."
She goes on to explain that this image posted to her Instagram account—snapped by her stylist on the set of America's Next Top Model—promptly went viral with accompanying hateful commentary. "You don't make plus-size dollars anymore, you make backstabbing dollars," wrote one commenter, and "You don't love the skin you're in, you want to conform to Hollywood, you believe being skinnier is prettier."
She says she hasn't lost a pound, and is in fact heavier than she was three years ago. But even if she did want to lose weight, Graham says that would be nobody's decision but her own.
"I am more than my measurements. I'm not Ashley Graham just because I'm curvy," she writes. "For the past sixteen years, my body has been picked apart, manipulated, and controlled by others who don't understand it. But now my career has given me a platform to use my voice to make a difference...Why waste time and energy spewing negativity? Let's worry about our own bodies."
Amen, Ashley. You can read the rest of her letter here.
This article originally appeared on InStyle.com/MIMI.