Ashley Graham has it all: She's confident about her body, has a lucrative modeling career, and is married to a supportive man. Despite her success, the 29-year-old model has been vocal about the weight stigma and fat hatred she's encountered throughout her life.
Case in point, men have literally rebuked her because of her size.
At the Urban Arts Partnership's 25th anniversary benefit, Graham spoke candidly about relating to women who've been body-shamed.
"Nothing's actually surprised me," she said. "I've lived exactly what they're living. I've lived the torment of the names. I've lived the torment of boyfriends breaking up with me because they were afraid I was going to be too fat later in life. It's the same cycle, it doesn’t matter what generation we are in. Every kid is going to go through the same thing."
Many fat women can relate to Graham's experience with men.
In August, fat women used the #FatSideStories hashtag to illuminate the ways fatphobia seeps into relationships and dating. The Your Fat Friend Twitter account sparked the conversation to show exactly how fat women are judged while dating.
"Fat dating stories haven't been discussed because no one has asked — not with genuine curiosity, empathy, or openness," Your Fat Friend told Dose Magazine. "Fat people on dates are so often presented as punchlines, or as punishments for thin people. In popular culture, when we're shown on dates, we're usually shown as being oblivious, tragic, repulsive, or weak."
Graham pushed through the rejection by working on her body image and advocating for fellow plus-size women.
"I wake up sometimes and I think, I'm the fattest woman alive. But it's really about how you handle it when you wake up," she said during the benefit. "I look in the mirror and I have my affirmations. And mine are simple. [I say] 'You are bold. You are brilliant and you are beautiful.'"
Plus-size women now have visible role models who speak publicly about fat-shaming. Maybe their boldness will help normalize our bodies so rejection isn't rooted in fear of our fat.