Ashley Graham's name has become synonymous with body positivity. The Sports Illustrated supermodel uses her social media influence to empower women of all shapes and sizes to embrace the skin they're in by leading an excellent example herself. But that doesn't mean she hasn't struggled to find her way. Which is why the sight of pregnant Ashley Graham crying over her stretch marks is a different sort of empowering moment. We all stumble, we all doubt ourselves. But Ashley Graham uses that doubt as a beautiful, teachable moment.
Graham's social media followers will remember a particularly powerful Instagram post from August, not long after she and filmmaker husband Justin Ervin announced they were expecting their first baby, as per Elle. The expectant mom shared a naked selfie of her pregnant body, stretch marks and all, with the caption "same same but a little different." Well, in a recent episode of her Fearless series, Graham shared the story behind the photo with mother of four Taylor Hoit. Graham initially found out about Hoit after the mom tagged the model in a post on social media. Perhaps inspired by Graham, Hoit took to Instagram to share her own postpartum belly 10 weeks after delivering twins. As Hoit explained in the video, she wanted to do something "for me and for my daughters to show them you don't have to get your body back because your body was never lost."
This is something Graham understood all too well.
Graham explained to Hoit, she had her own reasons for wanting to share such an exposed, vulnerable photo on Instagram, tearing up as she spoke:
The reason I had posted that original photo — I had just announced that I was pregnant. I thought then I was gonna feel good and I didn't. I just felt terrible and that morning, I was like, get it together Ashley—there's other women out there that are going through the same thing as you. Why don't you have a dialogue with them?
The model went on to note that she felt "isolated" by her new body, "This is a new body that I'm walking into... Why don't I just put myself out there with this new body I felt so isolated. I felt so alone... So, it's like I've had to come into this new world of body confidence."
Graham's vulnerability is, of course, one of her strengths. She doesn't simply advocate for body confidence and acceptance by giving the impression that it's easy; as she showed in her conversation with Hoit, she's all about sharing the journey.
And this is why she is such a good role model for women.