Girl Talk: Ashley Graham’s SI Swim cover inspires us to love ourselves no matter what shape or size
Over the years, standards of beauty have been all over the charts. We have shamed each other for having curves. We have embraced those curves. People have been judged for being too thin, people have been judged for being too fat. We have had skinny eyebrows and full; we have had blonde hair, brunettes and vivacious reds, purples and pinks. The media has now begun to embrace today’s woman and I couldn’t be prouder.
Ashley Graham is beautifully gracing the cover of this month’s Sports Illustrated coveted swimsuit edition. Ever since I was a little girl, the woman chosen for this cover has set the standard for trending beauty and for having an out of this world body. Ashley is considered plus sized so the fact that she was chosen really starts some intriguing conversation about the acceptance of curves, fuller bodies and how we should all love every inch of ourselves.
I have struggled with the ups and downs of weight since my mid-20s. I always had a very high metabolism growing up but after having my daughter, my body changed. It took me a long time to be OK with that. Even now, there are days I will look at myself and just say WTF, but they are becoming less frequent.
Throughout my 20s, I was a vivacious blonde. At 27, I decided to dye it back to my natural color of black. I was told by a “friend” that I was too overweight to be blonde anymore and that while it used to look good, it just didn’t anymore. Those comments really just made me feel terrible about being me.
Working in media, I am in the public eye, and sometimes, the public can be really mean. People have said some really horrible things about my appearance behind the safety of their computer screens. I let it get in my head and my heart. So I set a goal for myself, 20 pounds. When I lost 20 pounds I would have the confidence to go back to being a blonde. I would feel good about myself again and love me for who I am. I set that goal two years ago.
Last week I woke up to the realization that I wouldn’t be rewarding myself for losing the weight. While it was possible to do, it just isn’t as easy to lose the weight as it was to gain it. So instead of promising myself that “someday” reward, I was punishing my present day self for not loving the body that I have.
So I did it. I took my fabulously curvy body to the Déjà vu Salon and anxiously sat in Jennifer Haribin’s chair. Within two hours, I was once again rocking the blonde locks that I had loved so much so many years ago. I felt fierce. I felt beautiful. I felt like me again. Thank you Jenn, from the bottom of my heart.
It is time for us to start loving our bodies again. Every body.
The world needs all of our shapes and sizes. We are more than the size of our pants. Whether you are a size 2 or a size 22, you are beautiful. You should love yourself and not let anyone’s comments change that.
Ashley embraces and celebrates her curves. Marilyn Monroe’s pant size was double digits and the world still reveres her as a symbol of sex and beauty. Adele and Amy Schumer rock their curves with the utmost confidence. We are all beautiful and I applaud Sports Illustrated for starting the conversation on setting realistic beauty standards in the media. It is time to love ourselves — all shapes and sizes.
Girl Talk began in 2012 as a telltale horror story of the city’s most epic dating disasters and has evolved into a column about love, life experiences and growing up. Melissa also has a weekly Girl Talk TV segment on PA Live, WBRE, and a radio segment every Wednesday on 98.5 KRZ.