V131 “Golden Age”: Ashley Graham
Ashley Graham discusses her transcendence from industry-shattering model to business mogul.
This cover story appears in V131, available for purchase now
V Magazine: Was there a moment that was a turning point in your career?
Ashley Graham: There have been a few milestones along the way that have really changed my career and life, including my lingerie line, my TED talk, my Barbie, and my Sports Illustrated cover. Each moment was a stepping stone and helped shape my entrepreneurial journey and the businesses I’ve built. I have always known I wanted to be a performer, and fashion has opened so many doors for me to pursue that dream. Everything from creating and hosting my own podcast, to walking the runways and collaborating with fashion designers and creators on fun projects.
V: What’s a passion or interest you have that people might not know about?
AG: Rollerblading is a childhood passion of mine that I was able to pick back up again while quarantining this past year in Nebraska (which is where I grew up). I love taking Isaac out to the park and pushing him in his stroller while on my skates. It’s so much fun, and my mom actually used to do the same with my siblings and I when we were young.
Pants LOIS JEANS + V DENIM, Necklace Elsa Peretti® Snake Necklace in 18K Gold, Extra Large for Tiffany & Co., Bodysuit Alaïa, Belt Kieselstein-Cord, Earrings Ashley’s own, On eyes Revlon So Fierce! Prismatic Eyeshadow Palette
V: What do you remember about your first pair of denim? What made it special?
AG: To be honest, my first experience with denim was more tragic than it was special. As a curvy girl, it’s difficult to find the perfect fit, but when I do find a pair of jeans that I love, I buy it in multiple colors and washes. For me, I love denim that doesn’t have to be altered or tailored and is super breathable.
V: What’s the secret to looking good in a pair of jeans?
AG: First, confidence makes everything look good. Second, for jeans specifically, it’s all about finding your perfect fit.
V: What advice would you give to your teenage self?
AG: You’ll hear a lot of “no’s” and face uncertainties along the way, but keep believing in yourself and trust in the process. There are a lot of amazing things in store for you and your career!
V: If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
AG: I wouldn’t rely on a crystal ball to tell me what’s ahead, as our words and positive affirmations have so much more power in creating the future we want for ourselves. The words we use matter, so I always try to speak with kindness when talking to others and talking about myself, and put positive energy and good intentions out into the universe.
V: What’s the most enduring lesson that you’ve learned from being in the public eye?
AG: The most enduring lesson I’ve learned is to be confident and embrace what makes you unique. People will try to tell you who you are, or convince you that you’re not capable of accomplishing something, but you know yourself better than anyone else. Believe you can achieve a goal, and it’s yours to take.
Pants LOIS JEANS + V DENIM, Necklace Elsa Peretti® Snake Necklace in 18K Gold, Extra Large for Tiffany & Co., Bodysuit Alaïa, Belt Kieselstein-Cord, Earrings Ashley’s own
V: What attracts you to a creative collaborator?
AG: When I collaborate with a brand or partner, what’s most important to me is that we share common goals of championing and elevating diverse voices, creating positive change in our communities and inspiring others to be their most authentic selves.
V: What words do you live by?
AG: I use affirmations to help ground myself and remind me to believe in myself: I am bold, I am brilliant, I am beautiful. My mom, Linda, actually inspired them, and while the meaning behind these affirmations has evolved throughout my life, they have been an incredible guiding force.
V: What is a piece of art that has shaped the way you see the world?
AG: Jenny Saville is one of my all-time favorite artists. Her work shows a woman’s form in its rawest and makes you think about your own perceptions and misconceptions of the bodies we live and breathe in.
V: As your cover launches on Fourth of July weekend, what would your message to the readers be? What advice can you offer on how to move forward this summer after the past year we’ve had?
AG: This summer, enjoy nature and the outdoors, go swimming. Spend time with friends and family in-person. There is a lightness to this summer that I think everyone is feeling, so spend it with the people you love and find those activities, places and experiences that fill you with joy.
V: What would you like the legacy of your career to be?
AG: In everything I do, I work to give people everywhere the courage to make real, positive changes in their lives by breaking down barriers, building confidence, and most importantly, owning who you are.
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