TIME beauty

Ashley Graham Explains Why You Shouldn’t Call Her a ‘Plus-Sized’ Model

"The fashion industry might persist to label me as plus-sized, but I like to think of it as my-sized"

Body activist and model Ashley Graham made a moving TED Talk speech about the power of self-acceptance and the problem with the term “plus sized.”

In an April TEDx Talk that was recently uploaded to YouTube, Graham takes on the fashion industry through radical self-acceptance. Here’s how she started the talk:

“Back fat, I see you popping over my bra today. But that’s alright—I’m going to choose to love you. Thick thighs, you’re just so sexy you can’t stop rubbing each other. That’s alright, I’m going to keep you. And cellulite, I have not forgotten about you—I’m going to choose to love you, even though you want to take over my whole bottom half.”

She went on to describe how the term “plus-sized model” made her feel like she was an outsider in the fashion world, even though she had a successful modeling career. “I felt free once I realized I was never going to fit the narrow mold society wanted me to fit in,” she said. “The fashion industry might persist to label me as plus-sized, but I like to think of it as my-sized.” She noted that in the U.S., plus sizes start at anything from 8-16. Graham is a co-founder of ALDA, a coalition of plus-sized models.

“Back in Nebraska I was known as the fat model—the girl who was pretty for a big girl,” she said. She said that idea was isolating. “My body, like my confidence, has been picked apart, manipulated and controlled by others who didn’t necessarily understand it.”

“We need to work together to redefine the global image of beauty, and it starts by becoming your own role model,” she said.

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