Ashley Graham, age 27, has just made history. She will be the first size 14-16 model to appear in the annual swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.
"I know my curves are sexy and I want everyone else to know that theirs are too. There is no reason to hide and every reason to flaunt," Graham said in a statement.
The models typically displayed across the sandy spread have a pretty uniform body type: large, globular breasts with a butt to match and an impossibly tiny waist. Graham is here to change that.
We hope that the photo, which is an ad for swimsuitsforall, an online swimsuit retailer for curvy women, is only the beginning. Maybe next year, the magazine will feature a plus-size model in an official layout — but for now, it's certainly progress. Graham's success is a reminder that all bodies are beautiful and can go out to the beach in the swimwear of their choosing — whether that's a classic string bikini or skillfully-applied body paint.
In a recent essay for The Edit, Graham writes of body image:
I was told to look up to Marilyn Monroe and J.Lo, because those were the only two curvy women considered beautiful. We need role models for young girls who say, 'Embrace your curves. Who cares that your body isn't perfect?' There's too much anorexia, obesity and suicide in this generation and nobody is addressing the issue.
Young girls don't have much to look at, curvy women are not on covers of magazines, they're not talked about on social media as much as other celebrities. Jennifer Lawrence is the media's poster girl for curves — [but] she's tiny.
The campaign, called #CurvesInBikinis, also includes a video (see below) of Graham teasing a group of men entranced not by only her shape but also her confidence. The curvy girl era is nigh — and she is leading us there.