Model, body activist, author, and designer Ashley Graham is a surrogate big sister to women around the world.

Words: Sarah Garden

It’s midday. The warm glow of studio lighting fills the set, music is booming through the speakers, and the whole crew is cheering. Ashley Graham bounds over to the laptop we’re all huddled around and exclaims, “I LOVE IT!” at her final few shots. It’s been a long morning of outfit changes, heavy wigs, and high-energy poses, but she’s been laughing and dancing her way through it all.

ashley graham emirates woman april 2019

She is championing the normality of curves in the fashion industry after a journey wrought with criticism. Ashley remembers her early modelling years when she was told to lose weight and not be so loud – ironically, her killer curves and larger than life personality have been the foundations of a highly successful career.

ashley graham emirates woman april 2019


“Oh it’s completely changed,” she says when I ask her about the industry now compared to when she started almost two decades ago. “If you look at the last 20 years you would see that there was only one curvy girl making a difference or having an editorial per year, and now there’s a whole slew of us. And we’re not just in catalogues – we’re in magazines, we’re in campaigns, we’re on TV, we’re in movies and we’re starting to veer away from this ‘Oh we have a plus size model’. They’re just starting to put us in stuff. We are the norm so why not just treat us as the norm?”

emirates woman cover april 2019 ashley graham

Outside of her career, Ashley is extremely vocal on, well… just about anything. Showing her true big sister character, she’s happy to talk about her highs and lows in life so that other women don’t have to make the same mistakes.

Read the full interview in our April issue.

Photography and Video: Steph Galea

Fashion Direction & Styling: Carmel Harrison

Styling: Natalie Westernoff

Makeup: Manuel Losada at Art Factory

Hair: Eduardo Bravo

Photography Assistant: Abuzar Samo

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Media: Emirates Woman