After making history as the first size-16 model to land a cover of Sports Illustrated, Ashley Graham's star is firmly rising. Just this week she walked for H&M at Paris Fashion Week and sat on E!'s fashion panel at the Oscars.
In the process she's paving the way for more body diversity in mainstream modelling. Though some people aren't happy about it, and it's led to some unsolicited criticism coming in Graham's direction.
Cheryl Tiegs, a former Sports Illustrated model, commented of Graham's figure: “I don't think it's healthy.
“Her face is beautiful, beautiful. But I don't think it's healthy in the long run.
“I don't like it that we're talking about full-figured women because we're glamorizing them, and your waist should be smaller than 35 [inches]. That's what Dr. Oz [US surgeon and TV personality] said and I'm sticking to it.”
Graham has now responded to the uncalled-for judgement from Tiegs and firmly brushed it off.
She told E! News after her H&M show appearance: “Cheryl Tiegs may have said what she said and it may have hurt a lot of peoples feelings but my skin is so thick, I kind of rolled my eyes. I was like, 'Oh whatever, another one of these ladies.'
“But what's great is that – the fact that she said it – it means that other women think like her. And what that means is that we really need to change the industry.
“There are too many people thinking they can look at a girl my size and say that we are unhealthy. You can't, only my doctor can!”
Not only has Graham handled the comments with grace, she also makes an important point: masking your criticism of another woman's body under the guise of comments about her “health” is not OK.
The public agrees, as Tiegs has faced major backlash over her comments. As a result, she has issued an apology on Twitter – one which totally misses the point, sadly.
“My sincere apologies to everyone I have hurt. I truly just want everyone to be healthy & happy,” she said.
When asked by E! what she'd do if she crossed paths with Tiegs, Graham said there will be no bad blood and that she will continue to promote body positivity.
“You never know, and I will go up to her and say hello, and all the SI girls, I've always looked up to them,” she explained. “They are classic, amazing, beautiful women and it's a shame that we have to bring other people down, but that's why I'm here. I've got to bring other women up.”
A fierce campaigner for body positivity, the model also launched her own line of lingerie at New York Fashion Week last year and told Stylist magazine readers they need to learn to love their cellulite in an exclusive video.