It should come as no surprise that Ashley Graham, a self-proclaimed body activist and model, exudes body confidence. But it can take a lifetime for women who aren’t professional models to feel just as comfortable with their own appearances.
To move things along and adjust a norm where imperfections are way under-celebrated, Ashley directed a lingerie shoot for Glamour wearing nothing besides her bra and underwear
One by one, four women who’d never modeled lingerie (but knew what they were getting themselves into) joined Ashley on camera. Her job: to make them feel comfortable enough to de-robe
“I’m going to pull my bottoms up really high so my most insecure part is hanging out, and you’re going to take your robe off,” she told one woman. “Take it off.”
Once Ashley got the women out of their robes, she doled out tips for taking A+ photos. “If I touch the part that’s insecure, I look insecure,” she said. “The parts that I love, I remind myself,” she said, drawing a hand across her chest.
After pictures were taken, the women joined Ashley to review their photos. “It’s not every day I see a girl like me in this kind of lingerie ad … it’s like we’re not allowed to be there,” one woman said.
“Letting it out and not hiding it is almost step one of kind of accepting it,” said another, who also told Ashley about her history of battling anorexia.
Ashley burst into tears at one point, clearly moved by how each woman’s self-esteem had improved over the course of the shoot. “People just think that body image and the body revolution is a trend and a fad,” she said, addressing viewers directly. “You guys, it’s not. It goes from big girls to little girls. It goes from Spanish girls to black girls. It goes from white girls to young girls. It [affects] everybody in between. If we keep having this conversation, if we keep talking about the things society has said are ugly, the things we don’t see in media, that is what is going to change. That is how we make a statement, that is how we rule out all the things that are here right now and make a new normal … I really hope that this video impacts you the way it did me.”
The video is uplifting and adorable — and makes clothing seem terribly overrated, TBH. Get ready to fall in love with Ashley all over again as you watch:
(This report was published in Cosmopolitan)