Ashley Graham bikini body
photo: Instagram/@theashleygraham

Ashley Graham is a woman of many titles.

She's a supermodel. She's a body-positive icon. She's the face of her own swimwear line, and she's an author.  

And, yes, she's "brave." 

Graham is brave because she spoke out against body discrimination in the fashion industry at a time when non-sample sized models were silenced, and she has overcome great adversities in life (including sexual assault). 

But Graham doesn't want to be called "brave" for simply existing in her plus-size body. 

Over the weekend, Graham shared an unretouched bikini selfie on Instagram.

Ashley Graham brave swimsuit Instagram
photo: Instagram/@theashleygraham

The photo featured a carefree Graham enjoying her day in her swimsuit — cellulite and all. 

Because she unapologetically showed her cellulite and stretch marks to the world, her fans immediately praised her for being "brave."

In this case, however, the word "brave" worked as a backhanded compliment.

When people call Graham "brave" for wearing a bikini, it's implied that she should be afraid or embarrassed to wear her swimsuit in public.

But someone just existing in their present-day body shouldn't be considered "awe-inspiring" or extraordinary.

Frustrated by her followers' subtle digs, Graham decided to clap back with a sassy follow-up Instagram post.

Ashley Graham brave clap back
photo: Instagram/@theashleygraham

"When they call you 'brave'..," Graham captioned a photo from her recent Baywatch-inspired photo shoot

In the shot, Graham unapologetically straddles a jetski in the iconic red one-piece. She pulls her swimsuit high on her hips and casually flips her hair, basically sending the message she's unfazed by her followers' so-called "compliments." She's simply living her life in her curvy body.

Graham's fans were HERE for her cheeky response.

Ashley Graham brave Instagram post
photo: Instagram

However, some people *still* didn't understand why Graham was so annoyed by the use of the "brave." But thankfully one Instagram user was ready to explain why the "compliment" is so problematic: 

"Societally constructed ideals of beauty in pop culture programs us to be ashamed of fatness, and if anyone is PROUD of being 'fat' or 'imperfect' in any way, they get labelled 'brave.' Calling someone 'brave' should NOT be a normalized term. What NEEDS to be normalized is acceptance and diversity; where we live in a world where everyone's body is normalized, thus never having to refer to the celebration of our bodies as brave."

"You fucking GO girl," the user added, applauding Graham for standing up to the backhanded compliments.

It's time to stop calling women "brave" as though they should be ashamed for existing in their bodies.

Ashley Graham brave Instagram post
photo: Instagram/@theashleygraham

Let Graham's Instagram post serve as a reminder.