Ashley Graham's life lessons

7 of the very best things we learned from speaking to Ashley Graham

Stylist had a chat with the model, presenter and St Tropez global ambassador – here’s what she had to say and what we learned. 

Ashley Graham is the very definition of powerhouse. When she’s not championing body positivity or walking the runway for some of the world’s most famous fashion houses, she’s gracing the cover of a magazine, or she might just be in her bathroom setting up ring lights that light her body in such a way that she’s able to flawlessly apply false tan without any help – her back included (the trick, she says, is to spray St.Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist, £22 over her shoulder).

But whatever she’s doing, she remains one of the most well-loved, relatable and down to earth celebrities we’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to. 

Joining the Zoom live from LA following an interview on The Ellen Show, Graham is looking as flawless as ever – her make-up, which she says is inspired by a look she saw on Bella Hadid, is perfect. A neutral taupe eyeshadow is paired with black kohl-rimmed eyes that are slightly smoked outwards and her hair is tied up with two loosely curled sections pulled out the front. She’s bronzed, of course she is, she’s St Tropez’s global brand ambassador, and her lips are lined with a 90s-inspired brown shade and filled in with a her-lips-but-better shade of pink.

McDonald’s coffee in hand, Graham is raw, unfiltered and completely relatable throughout our chat – here are the key lessons we learned from her.

Ashley Graham drinking McDonald's coffee
The best things we learnt from speaking to Ashley Graham

The importance of working out

“Moving my body in some kind of capacity has been really important. I actually have a workout series on YouTube and through the pandemic we couldn’t go to a gym, so we were all going online and looking for people to work out with. Well, girls that have workout videos do not look like me, they do not have cellulite, they do not have lower belly fat, they do not have round jiggly arms, and there’s no way in hell I’d ever have a sculpted back, so I really wanted to create something that that could be accessible and attainable for everyone. 

“I love to move my body; I am strong, and I am fast, and I have the mobility, and I know that there’s other girls my size that do too. So, I think that it was encouraging for a lot of people, especially when everybody was home doing nothing, but I love to sweat. I love yoga, I have sciatic issues so, I’m all about any kind of like yoga. I think moving your body, and then also moving your mind go hand in hand.”

The affordable lip balm she carries everywhere

“I love Aquaphor. It’s like the cheapest of the cheap of all that can be, but one time I was going to an event and my legs were ashy as hell. All I had was this little tube so I put it all over my legs and then they were shiny on the red carpet and that’s all that matters.”  

The words Ashley Graham lives by

“The mantra I say to myself is this: ‘I am bold, I am brilliant, I am beautiful, I am worthy of all, I love you’. Those are my affirmations and I’ve had them for such a long time. They’ve evolved and changed but they’re also words I’ve come back to, especially after the baby when I had a whole new body, but I think that, you know, having affirmations and knowing that your words can either bring death or life is something that really is so key for me.”

The can’t-live-without beauty products

My St Tropez Ultimate Glow Kit makes me feel like I’ve got everything together. It’s like the ultimate accessory. I can have my hair done, my jewellery on and my Ultimate Glow Kit and I feel like I can leave the house a complete person. I’m also an eyebrow gel girl: I brush it up into my eyebrows and I feel like if my eyebrows are up the rest of my face is done. It’s kind of like the ultimate face lift.”

The importance of looking after your mental health to help your confidence

“I think it’s about doing the work on the inside. We’re all on a different journey of confidence and I think if you’re making daily routines for yourself, like what do you do the moment you wake up. I don’t have my phone next to my bed anymore. It sleeps in the bathroom because it’s something that’s super triggering and then I start thinking about everybody else except me. And for me, I’m most important, because if my husband is taken care of, if my baby is taken care of, if my health is taken care of, then everything else falls in line. 

“So mental health has been a really big thing for me. Through the pandemic I learned a lot about how I really need to slow down and take care of myself in that aspect. But it’s all internal, it’s about how you’re taking care of yourself internally and building confidence within yourself because what’s on the outside is a façade – it’s going to fade. You know, at the end of the day, we have to take care of who we are, inside first and then the rest of it will glow.” 

The best way to prep skin for fake tan

“So everything is about the prep. I don’t really shave, I’m just like, whatever. The hair under my arms and on my legs is a whole moment right now. I feel really bad for my husband, but I didn’t shave – so you don’t have to shave to put your tan on. But what you really do need to do is exfoliate very well in the shower, use something non-abrasive. I like to use this African Black Soap. And then when you get out, use a lotion. I put it all over my hands, I even put it like in the webs [of my fingers], on the elbows, the knees and the backs of my heels. Then when I apply the tan, I start at my feet and work upwards.”

The power of accepting a compliment

“You Brits always speak over compliments for some reason. But I think accepting a compliment is like accepting a gift. There’s really something to be said about knowing that someone just wants to tell you something nice about yourself, and this goes back to the old, you know, me kind of preaching about affirmation, like if you can speak to yourself kindly in the mirror, why can’t you accept someone else speaking so kindly back to you?” 

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Main image: Getty