Man do I ever wish Ashley Graham had been around when I was having babies. The Sports Illustrated model has the kind of body confidence that is truly infectious, and I know it would have helped me feel better about myself. I know she would have helped so many women in my life not just feel better about themselves, but also empower them to lift each other up. Fortunately, the model is here to inspire women now, and it's a beautiful thing. And on Monday, Ashley Graham shared a video of her "new body" with her social media followers, and it came with a reminder that surrounding yourself with people who lift you up is seriously important.
Graham announced she was expecting her first baby with husband of nine years, filmmaker Justin Ervin, back in August and has been sharing beautiful updates about her pregnancy journey ever since. OK, she might not be sharing the sex of the baby at this point or anything, but Graham has been open about sharing some of her delicious cravings and her quest for the best maternity leggings. Those little details can make people really feel like they're traveling along the journey with her.
But perhaps the most important element of her pregnancy Graham has shared with her followers is this: She is all about embracing her body as it changes.
On Monday, the fashion designer shared a video of her naked pregnant body, explaining in the caption that learning to love her body as it gets bigger remains a process for her. "Getting bigger and bigger and trying to embrace my new body everyday," she captioned the video. "It’s a journey and I’m so thankful to have such a supportive community."
Speaking of her supportive community, fellow models like Karlie Kloss took to Graham's Instagram post to double down on their love for their friend. Kloss wrote, "You look beautiful," while supermodel Helena Christensen wrote, "Oh mama."
Non-model supporters were also out in full force, with some of Graham's more than 9.2 million followers praising her in the comments. "I'm so glad you exist," one fan commented, while also said, "Goddess! You are such an inspiration. we love you."
This isn't the first time Graham has been praised for sharing a photo of what an actual naked pregnant woman looks like. Back in August she shared a profile shot of her belly (complete with stretch marks that happen to pretty much everyone when they're growing a baby inside them) with the caption: "same same but a little different."
I think it's important to point out that Graham has suffered through more than her fair share of criticism along the way. People who have mocked her size and tried to body shame her. But she chooses to focus on those who support her and ignore those who don't. To me this is the critical difference, perhaps especially when you're pregnant.
It can be a struggle to embrace all of the changes to your body as you're growing your baby, emotionally and physically. And if someone says something negative to you... well, it's a strong woman who can ignore the negative and choose instead to live inside the warm cocoon of people who support her. Ashley Graham is that strong woman. And she's here to inspire us all.