In the issue, which also honors Susan Sarandon, Beth Ditto and Alek Wek, Graham explains that although she’s always loved her body, she has had moments of doubt about her own self control. “My problem though, was I kept getting bigger because I wasn’t taking care of my body. I wasn’t working out. I was eating whatever because I was in this category – ‘plus size’ – and it got out of control,” she told the magazine. “I started hating my body, but I never hid it with clothing because I always felt sexy inside. The moment that I started respecting myself, my clothes changed.”
Graham also discussed her religious beliefs, which she “got away from” when she first moved to New York City. Now, she’s reconnected with her church in a modern way. “When I’m shooting lingerie or Sports Illustrated, I’m aware that my pastor follows me on Instagram. You should be the same person from the moment you wake up to when you go to bed,” she said.
Plenty of magazines, even just this year, have chosen Graham for their covers. She covered Glamour this summer accompanied by an interview in which she discussed an instance of sexual assault on a photoshoot. “I told myself, ever since that incident, that I wasn’t going to allow someone at work to manipulate what I wanted to do on set. So any image that you see out there is one that I wanted to take,” she explained.
Earlier this year, Graham also became the first plus-size model to cover Vogue in a shoot that included figures as recognizable as Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner. While the cover was criticized for a lack of diversity, Graham pronounced it a “#dreamcometrue.”
Graham’s rocket to supermodel-level also began in part thanks to a magazine cover. She was the first plus-size model to ever grace the cover of Sports Illustrated and has appeared in the magazine regularly since her debut in 2014.
Graham’s ever-growing resume doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon, and she doesn’t want it to. As she told New York, “This is the thing: I know I’m paving the way for the next generation of girls, and they’re not going to have to do this. That’s what I hope. I’ll take the brunt work and just handle it, and then you guys can just sail right on through.”
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