Ashley Graham was born October 30, 1987 and is an American plus-size model and television presenter.
When Graham was in eighth grade, she moved to Lincoln, Nebraska with her family. Growing up, she was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia. She has two younger sisters. She attended Scott Middle School from 1999 to 2002 and attended Lincoln Southwest High School from 2002 to 2005. She was identified in 2000 by the I & I agency while shopping at Oak View Mall in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 2001, Graham signed a deal with Wilhelmina Models, after attending a model convention. In 2003, she signed a deal with Ford Models. During her early career, she appeared in YM magazine. In April 2007, she was profiled by Sally Singer of Vogue magazine. She appeared on the October 2009 issue of Glamour editorial “These Bodies are Beautiful at Every Size,” along with plus-size models including Kate Dillon Levin, Amy Lemons, Lizzie Miller, Crystal Renn, Jennie Runk and Anansa Sims.
In December 2010, Graham also appeared in an editorial for Bust magazine. She appeared in several Levi’s campaigns, notably Curve ID SS 2011 with Sabina Karlsson, Ana Lisboa, Marquita Pring and McKenzie Raley, and Boyfriend Collection F/W 10 with Rachel Clark, Ana Lisboa, Anais Mali, Marquita Pring and Ashley Smith. Graham has appeared in several Marina Rinaldi campaigns: Spring/Summer 2012, Fall/Winter 2012 denim, and Fall/Winter 2012 sport. Other clients include Addition Elle, Bloomingdale’s, Elomi lingerie, Evans, Hanes, Liz Claiborne Macy’s, Nordstrom, Simply Be and Target. In December 2012, Graham was featured on two billboards in New York for Lane Bryant. At the end of that year, Graham was named the Full Figured Fashion Week’s Model of the Year.
In 2013, Graham designed a lingerie line for Addition Elle, a Canadian plus-size clothing retailer. She also appeared on MTV’s Made, as a coach for an aspiring plus-size model. She appeared on the May 2014 issue for the international Harper’s Bazaar pre-fall collection and beauty editorial. She was the cover model on the June 2014 issue of Elle Quebec. In 2015, swimsuitsforall, a plus-size retailer for women’s swimsuits, featured Graham in an advertisement in Sports Illustrated‘s annual Swimsuit Issue. The ad was part of swimsuitsforall’s #CurvesInBikinis campaign. Graham was one of the first plus-size models to appear in the pages of the Swimsuit Issue. In 2016, she became the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue.
In 2016, Graham served as a backstage host for Miss USA 2016, Miss Universe 2016, Miss USA 2017, Miss Universe 2017 and Miss Universe 2018. In addition, she was an official judge of the reality show America’s Next Top Model transmitted by VH1.
In 2017, Graham released a book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like. In this memoir, she provides insight into her experiences as a model and as an advocate for body positivity, and shares her prospects for the evolution of body image in years to come.
She also competed in an episode of Spike’s Lip Sync Battle against Superior Donuts actor Jermaine Fowler. Graham won with performances of Shawn Mendes’s “Treat You Better” and Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much”. The episode aired on June 28, 2017.
Graham has been announced as the host of the second season of American Beauty Star.
Graham is a proponent of the body positivity and the Health at Every Size movements. Glamour thanked Graham for bringing size acceptance into the mainstream.
Graham gave a TED Talk advocating for self-acceptance with regards to body images, which included her looking into a full-length mirror and having a friendly chat with her body parts.
Graham has been praised by women on Instagram for sharing photos showing her cellulite. In an interview with Vogue, she said that she definitely thinks that her body has changed many peoples’ lives. She used it as a tool to talk about taboo subjects, such as cellulite or being insecure about lower belly fat—and also [how to] talk life into your body and have an affirmation kind of conversation with yourself. And she knows the lives that have been changed: young girls and even women her age who have written her that they never loved the skin that they were in until they heard her journey. Graham has stated she does not prefer the term “plus-size”, because it is like you’re putting all these women into a category: ‘You don’t eat well.’ ‘You don’t work out.’ ‘You could care less about your body.’ ‘You’re insecure.’ ‘You have no confidence.’ And that her body is none of this. The fashion industry may persist to label her as ‘plus-size,’ but she likes to think of it as ‘her size’.