Ashley Graham was told at age 12 by a photographer to lose half her weight

Ashley Graham provokes a lot of strong opinions. People seem to either love her messaging or think she’s supremely annoying. I give her major props for the career she’s built as a plus size model, because unfortunately, it’s still a big deal in the fashion industry. I also feel like she’s authentic, like we really get to see her and not a persona she’s putting on, and I appreciate that. After hosting HGTV’s Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge over the summer, Ashley is now gracing the cover of Vogue Germany’s September issue. The cover is gorgeous. I’m a little rusty on my German, but the Daily Mail translated some of the interview for us, including a photographer’s “advice” when she was still a preteen:

Ashley Graham was featured on the cover of the September Issue of Vogue Germany.

The 35-year-old model wore a brightly multicolored outfit while posing for the publication during an outdoor photoshoot.

The beauty industry figure, who recently showcased her physique in form-revealing swimwear, also sat down for an interview where she discussed various aspects of working in the fashion world.

Graham looked gorgeous in a purple sequin-covered dress that exposed her sculpted arms during her photoshoot.

In her interview, she talked about how she was body shamed when she started working as a model as a pre teen.

The social media personality added a bit of extra shine to her look with a pair of sparkling earrings.

Her voluminous brunette hair cascaded onto her back and paired well with the tones of her clothing.

Graham began her interview by speaking about the discrimination she had received as a result of her size during her early days in the fashion industry.

“One of the first photographers I worked with said to my mother, ‘If Ashley would lose weight and go from a size 12 to a size 6, she could work all the time.’”

She added: “I was 12-years-old then. I can imagine how young girls must feel about social media these days.”

The social media personality went on to state that she had always been fine with her size, especially during her younger years.

“I was very aware that my thighs were rubbing together, that my belly fat was bulging over my jeans, that my arms were bigger than my girlfriends,” she said.

Graham also discussed how she had learned to love her physique after becoming a mother of three.

“I don’t want to lie to myself and say: ‘Belly, after three children you look so great!’ But I can accept and love my body and thank it for giving birth to three healthy children,” she said.

[From Daily Mail]

When I was about 13 we received a piece of marketing mail from a plastic surgeon’s office, and for some reason it was addressed to me. My father was LIVID. Even though Ashley and her mother must have had discussions about body image and the modeling world (given she was starting at a young age), I do hope that at the very least this photographer made the comment to Ashley’s mother privately, and she shared it with her daughter years later. But I wouldn’t be surprised either if it was said tactlessly right in front of her.

“I was very aware that my thighs were rubbing together, that my belly fat was bulging over my jeans, that my arms were bigger than my girlfriends.” All of that was my experience growing up, too. With regards to the thigh situation, my cousin and I have affectionately dubbed it the chub-rub. I was never bullied for it by my peers, which I am truly grateful for, but it was an ever-present awareness. Like Ashley, I also shudder to think of what social media would have added to my adolescence. Carina made the point earlier this week, “just because a technology is powerful, that does not mean it is good.” She was referring to AI, but it definitely applies to social media as well. And let’s be real, the men running X (the artist formerly known as Twitter) and Instagram do not care a whit about the impact. They’re not exactly beacons of emotional intelligence themselves.

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25 Responses to “Ashley Graham was told at age 12 by a photographer to lose half her weight”

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  1. Mcmmom says:

    When I was about that age, my father looked me up and down and said, “yeah, you’re going to have a weight problem when you’re older.” Sigh. So Kismet – I like your dad’s reaction a lot better.

    • FHMom says:

      My dad said something similar to me and I ended up with an eating disorder for 15 years.
      I think these days there is a lot more body positivity out there. I wish there were an Ashley Graham or even pre weight loss Kim K around when I was growing up. Those 80 supermodels were very damaging to impressionable me

      • B says:

        Same here. When I was that age, my dad told my little sister she would be just fine, but I would have to watch my weight my whole life or I would “get chubby.” ( I ran to my Mom and cried, but never forgot that). I would read the teen magazines & the really young girls were all very skinny & the supermodels at the time…it’s good to have confident mainstream examples of all sizes now. (At least for people who still care what people think, I’m over that finally, LOL)

    • Wednesday Addams says:

      My uncle used to call me “Little Fat Girl.” He was always making rude comments to me, even into adulthood. I still despise him.

    • Eleonor says:

      I was 17, so a bit older, and for once I DARED wear a tighter top, because I have always been insecure about my stomach which isn’t flat. I remember a guy in the street looking at me saying “you should loose weight” .
      The great Italian poet, Alda Merini, once wrote “I should apologise to myself, for believing I wasn’t enough”.

  2. Josephine says:

    I have to admit that my first reaction to this was that no one should be modeling at 12. It’s just gross.

    But yes, men have way, way, way too much to say to young girls about their bodies. And women have plenty to say as well. Stop saying anything to young people about their bodies. There is plenty to say about their talents, their interests, their creativity, etc. etc. What they look like just does not need to be part of a conversation ever.

  3. It Really Is You, Not Me says:

    Gross that anyone would shame a young girl for her body for any reason, but especially an adult male for monetary purposes.

    I gained 25 lbs this year due to early onset menopause combined with what I am calling the post-COVID YOLO binge. Is anyone else experiencing that?

    I am trying to love the body I am in and appreciate it for carrying 2 children, a FT job, and many years as an athlete BUT I am struggling with body image so I appreciate Ashley’s take on this. The first step is to get back to consistent exercise. The second is to consistently eat better and cut out empty calories from wine. Wish me luck!

  4. Saviour says:

    Everyone these days is on ozempic and won’t admit to it. Her weight loss was insane. Just like Oprah. I got away with it because she’s at home but still.. Such bs.

  5. HollyGolightly says:

    Okay, am I the only one whose thighs rub together no matter how thin I am? Even at a size 2, I need to wear shorts under dresses in the summer. I’ve accepted they will always rub together and that’s just how I’m built.

    Both my parents were absolutely HORRIBLE about my weight growing-up, and I have a very clear memory of being at the doctor at 13. The doctor referred to me as “a little on the chunky side but 10-15lbs should take care of it” and smacked me on the butt. I cried all night and my mom saw nothing wrong with it.

    Those things stick with you forever.

    • HufflepuffLizLemon says:

      I’m ready to fight that doctor on your behalf. Seriously. Where is he? Smacking your 13 year old butt deserves it an ass-kicking. (Sympathize about your parents too, mine were a mess with regard to food/body stuff. Starvation, diet culture, you name it Still working on that.)

      We’ve been so blessed with pediatricians that look at our son, who technically is “heavy” according to charts and go, “yep, the BMI scale is not build for super active kids with a lot of muscle, don’t worry about it.” and move on. He’s broad shouldered/ broad backed, has huge biceps and triceps and big, muscular legs, and is a three sport year round athlete, but the wrong doctor could look at the chart and tell him to go on a diet, and honestly, I would be ready to fight. NO child should be critiqued for their weight, and significant health concerns (morbidly obese, inactive children) should STILL be addressed with parents out of the child’s hearing, and with a plan centered around activity and plenty nourishing foods, not starvation or body comments.

      Jesus, no wonder we’re a nation with body issues, EDs, binge eating, and screwed up relationships with food.

      • HollyGolightly says:

        Thank you!

        The worst is my mother “heard” it differently and kept repeating to my dad and ANYBODY WHO WOULD LISTEN for the next few days that the doctor said I had to lose 20-25 lbs. I kept arguing with her “HE SAID 10-15. You know. Right before he smacked me on the butt.”

        I had a meltdown about a year later and essentially stopped eating, and lost under 15lbs. I was already at my full adult height because I was only 10 when I got my period so I’ve been 5’0 since I was 12. 15lbs on my body was MASSIVE and everyone acted like I had lost 200lbs and it was the most damaging thing in the world to get all those compliments when I was so messed-up and starving myself.

        This is why I will never ever ever EVER comment on anyone’s weight loss/body.

      • HufflepuffLizLemon says:

        I’m ready for your mama too. Let’s go.

        What a mess for you, and I am so sorry. You should never have been put through this.

    • AnneL says:

      I think people are just built differently. My daughter and I can usually wear the same size but have completely different body types. I’m bigger on top and she’s bigger in the bottom and thigh area. So my thighs don’t rub together, but I feel like I have a double chin even when I wear a size 6.

      And I’m also sorry to hear about that doctor. Smacking you on the butt?! What he said is bad enough but that is so degrading and inappropriate. I would have been livid.

    • FHMom says:

      You win the comment section today. I am appalled by that doctor’s behavior. Too bad you couldn’t report him to the medical board.

    • Josephine says:

      That’s sexual assault and is disgusting. If he’s still practicing, I would hunt him down like the pos he is just to tell him what a garbage human he is.

    • Isa says:

      The rage I would feel if someone smacked my daughter on the butt. He should’ve been reported and I’m sorry your mom didn’t advocate for you and treated you badly.

      To answer your question, even at 110 lbs my thighs rubbed together. It’s funny seeing those memes about wearing holes in your jeans bc of your thighs saying “only thic women will understand.” My thighs weren’t even thick. It’s just how my hips are built. They are actually kind of narrow (I carry my weight up top) and my thighs rub together.

    • poppedbubble says:

      Why do you have to wear shorts under your dress because your thighs rub together? My thighs have always rubbed together no matter how thin and I don’t wear shorts under dresses. I’ve never heard this before. Are they getting chaffed due to the rub?

      • HollyGolightly says:

        Yes, my thighs chafe, no matter how thin I am. It’s painful, and annoying, and I walk over 10 miles a day and I ONLY wear dresses, so wearing shorts under them is the best option for me. I’ve actually heard of plenty of people who do this because they have the same problem?

      • HollyGolightly says:

        I walk A LOT (over ten miles a day) and I only wear dresses. My thighs chafe no matter how thin I am and it’s painful and annoying in the summer, so I always just wear the shorts if I’m not wearing tights. I’ve heard of a lot of women having to do this. I don’t think it’s unusual at all.

  6. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    I was always ALWAYS super thin when I was growing up. No matter what I ate, I was skinny. I got alot of push back on that from male relatives, you know…”they’re gonna have to shake the sheets to find you” ” you’re not gonna be very comfortable to curl up next to at night” and some others that were sexual in nature. I actually didn’t start putting on weight till 3 babies and hitting my 40’s.
    Society is messed up. I think Ashley Graham is stunning and looks like so many of us out there (granted I am only 5’4″ so there’s a limit to how much we look the same 😆)

  7. Nicegirl says:

    I love positive impact

    Hope to see many more in modeling in the future too