Woman Crush Wednesday: the curvalicious Ashley Graham
It is only fitting that the first #wcw in my Woman Crush Wednesday series here at SL&ATF goes to my self-proclaimed girlfriend, Miss Ashley Graham (she's actually a Mrs., but to hell with being labeled by your marital status!).
If you're familiar with Ashley (yea that's right, I'm gonna refer to her by her first name because I like to pretend that we're boos), it's probably for one of two reasons: (1) she's a bombshell of a model, duh; or (2) she's a tireless advocate for body-positivity. Her Instagram posts boast the #beautybeyondsize hashtag, she designs plus-size lingerie and swimwear, presented a Ted Talk entitled "Plus Size? More like My Size," and encourages women to love the skin they're in.
You guys, I can't even begin to tell you how Ashley has changed the way I think about myself and my own body. OK, admittedly not EVERY SECOND, ALL OF THE TIME. I think all of us (but probs females and trans folks in particular), think about the aesthetic of our bodies more often than necessary. We think about how it looks to ourselves, how if looks to others (those two are usually lightyears different!), how it takes up space, how pleasing it is, how it interacts with other bodies, etc. etc. While I RATIONALLY know that these thoughts are unnecessary - and even sometimes harmful - it does not make me immune. I have spent far too much time feeling bad about my body. Bad about myself. Looking at my body and only noticing things I wished were different. Feeling unattractive. Sexually undesirable. Unworthy.
I won't pretend that I saw Ashley and then all of a sudden BAM! I was cured of all body shaming self-talk. But, I will tell you that for me, those demeaning thoughts and feelings have decreased since becoming familiar with the model's work. I was like, "damn! that girl is really sultry and sexual and confident and beautiful!" I was instantly attracted to her; super envious of her curvy, sexy body. It didn't hurt that she had no shame in flaunting it, from posting multiple bikini clad shots on Snapchat, to fearlessly strutting down the runway in nothing but lingerie. And then one day when I was declaring my admiration for sexual as fuck boobs and thighs out loud, someone close to me said, "you know her body is just like yours, right?"
Never. Ever. In a million trillion years. Would it ever had crossed my mind. To even think. For a second. That the body that had caused me so much anguish and shame and embarrassment over the years had even an ounce of similarity to the one I was coveting. One that I considered to be "gold standard." But putting on my objective glasses for a minute, it's a little bit true!
How is it that we see ourselves SO INCREDIBLY DIFFERENTLY than how others see us?
I'm not writing this to advertise to the world that I have a rockin' Ashley Graham bod. I'm writing this because we NEED to start to see ourselves from the perspective of others who love us. To be nicer, kinder, more compassionate to ourselves - the way we would be with our best friends or our lovers! Ashley often encourages women to practice positive self-talk and affirmations. I've dedicated the walls of my closet to some of my favorite pics of Ashley - my daily reminder to see myself as beautiful.
What are some of the things you beauties do for a confidence boost? What makes you feel confident? Do you all practice affirmations? Write little pep talk messages to yourselves? Let's encourage that self-love!
PS. For more crashworthiness from Ashley, read this powerful Lenny Letter written by Graham