Ashley Graham—designer, model, body activist, disruptor of the status quo—and bare necessities have something in common: We’re both preoccupied with lifting women up. To celebrate today’s debut of her lingerie line, we sat down with her for an exclusive Q&A at our headquarters with bn staffers and plus-size style bloggers.
Since Ashley was discovered at age 12 in a mall in her native Nebraska, she’s been working nonstop to shake up the notoriously intractable fashion world. The proof is in the press: This year alone, Ashley simultaneously joined and forever altered the ranks of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover models, and Forbes magazine named her a “30 Under 30.”
“My mom and dad told me, ‘If you try it, you have to stick with it,’” says Ashley, and those words drove her. At 17, Ashley moved to New York by herself. “I gained my freshman 15…more like 30. I was still working, I was still fabulous, but I had agents literally waving money in my face saying, ‘if you lost some more LBs, baby, you’d get a lot more of this.’ In that moment I realized, ‘Why am I modeling? What is this for?’” She knew she had to blaze her own trail, but something was holding her back: