Ashley Graham Doesn’t Owe You Anything

The body shaming Ashley Graham endured last week by her fans, who are upset with her for supposedly losing weight, is itself shameful. As fans who love her for her body positivity, how they can engage in making judgmental comments about her weight baffles me.

Whether she’s actually lost weight or not, which she has not confirmed, is besides the point. I thought the body positivity movement was all about feeling comfortable in our own skin and having control over how you feel about your body.

Ashley Graham via Swimsuits For All, the model's collection of plus-size swimwear

Body shaming Ashley Graham doesn’t do the body positivity movement any good. via Swimsuits For All, Graham’s plus-size swimwear collection

The body positivity movement is not about judging others for gaining or losing weight. It is not about judging someone whose body has changed — whether it’s gotten bigger or smaller or more muscular or someone has had weight-loss surgery or plastic surgery.

The point of body positivity, in my eyes, is to not shame anyone for his or her body shape or appearance, for any reason.

What Ashley Graham decides to do with her body is her business. Just like if I decide I’m not happy with my weight as it is and I want to lose weight, that’s my prerogative. Or if I just decide I want to start eating more healthfully and exercising more, and weight loss is a byproduct of that, that is also my choice.

My feelings about my body are what’s important. Not anyone else’s feelings or judgments or society’s preconceived notions about what my body should look like.

I understand that plus-size women who may be unhappy with Ashley Graham’s weight loss are probably feeling that because she is one of the most popular plus-size models, and she doesn’t weigh as much as many plus-size women. They may feel that it isn’t fair for her to represent herself as one of “us.” There’s no doubt about it that there is still size discrimination in the plus-size clothing and modeling industry. Not all sizes are represented in advertisements or magazines, even when they sell clothing for larger women.

But those false representations do not fall solely on Ashley Graham’s shoulders. And her body is not owned by her fans and shouldn’t be owned by her industry. She is a person, a human being — that’s all any of us want to be seen as.

For most women, and men, too, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you don’t work on losing weight, then you’re portrayed as gluttonous and lazy. If you are proud of who you are, no matter your size, then you do lose weight, you’re seen as conforming to society’s idea of beauty.

I don’t think Ashley Graham owes it to any of us to stay one size or another, to lose weight or not lose weight. She needs to feel good in her own skin, just like we all do.

So please stop body shaming someone who has helped the fashion industry see plus-size women as valuable contributors to this creative world and to the economy. There are other role models of all sizes who are doing this, too, and they deserve a judgment-free zone, as well. Just like we all do.

1 Comment on Ashley Graham Doesn’t Owe You Anything

  1. Leslie L Golden
    July 25, 2016 at 9:23 am (4 months ago)

    I’m disturbed that this wave of body-shaming seems to be coming from the very people who should know not to do this. For decades, plus-sized people have rightly complained that they are belittled, humiliated and dehumanized because of their weight. As victims of this damaging treatment, they should be the last to inflict it on another human being, not the first.

    Reply

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