Social media influencers have been deemed to be fake as they are many times selling products or ideas, they do not really believe in. This is especially true in the world of influencers who are also models. However, Ashley Graham has broken this stereotype.
Graham first made history as the first plus-size model to appear in the pages of Sports Illustrated magazine in 2015, then she covered the magazine the following year. She has been paving the way for plus sized models and girls to fully feel comfortable in their skin and embrace their full potential in the modeling industry and life. Graham is a fierce advocate of body positivity, encouraging women to celebrate their authentic selves, no retouching required. Social media has been one of the biggest outlets for her to do so.
Ashley Graham has 14.5 million followers on Instagram alone. She uses the platform to talk about fashion, post vlogs, talk about selfcare and family. Over the years she has built a community around her and around her brand. She began encouraging people to interact with each other and her by posting thought provoking posts about her experiences with photographers, stylists, agents, and clients as a plus sized model. These stories sparked many girls to respond with their stories. Most of these posts became threads of people writing about their experiences and supporting each other as well. Graham has always been a big advocate of girls supporting girls and her page has reflected that value from day one. Her page became a place for girls who have had similar experiences to find each other and come together.
Since her social media impact became huge, Graham wanted to be able to bring the online community she had built to a physical meeting level, therefore, she began taking on speaking engagement to create a physical presence for her community. Graham has spoken at countless events to date where she invited her community to go see her, interact with her, and each other. One of the most prominent events she attended was hosted by The New York Times’s Fashion & Style Editor. Graham joined The New York Times in an unfiltered discussion about beauty, entrepreneurship, and the importance of empowerment on and off the runway.
This was an event hosted by the Get with The Times series, NYT live conversation series for college students dedicated to exploring some of the most provocative and timely issues that students face today. Each of these events take place on a college campus and is broadcast to watch parties hosted on other campuses across the country. This gave the members of Graham’s community the opportunity to find each other physically and connect. Graham also participated in Create & Cultivate events.
Create & Cultivate is a media company providing content, community, and curated events for ambitious women. Graham has also participated in TED Talks.
The list is endless. Graham has been present online and in person for her community to come together wherever they may be.
To further her weekly interaction with her community, Graham has launched a podcast that can be found in Apple Podcasts.
Pretty Big Deal is a podcast where Graham sits down with other influential women to talk about successes and failures in their paths and how they have stayed empowered and confident throughout their journeys as well as daily topics for women. The podcast has over two-hundred thousand followers and has been a great pillar for her community to connect to on a weekly basis without too much time commitment.
All the outlets Graham has found and cultivated to contribute and build her community have created platforms for women all around the world to connect, share, inspire, and empower. This is why Ashley Graham is a pretty big deal.
Nikas, Ashley and Joanna. “Get with the Times: Ashley Graham.” TimeTalks, YouTube, 31 Mar. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZudLf60_0s.
Schild, Darcy. “Why Ashley Graham Is This Generation’s Body-Positive Icon.” Insider, Insider, 18 Feb. 2020, https://www.insider.com/why-ashley-graham-is-this-generations-body-positive-icon-2019-9.