Ashley Graham, the curve/plus-size model best known for being the first plus-size model on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, is once again the target of trolls criticizing her body. If she’s too fat for some, she’s too thin for others. Recently, the model posted an Instagram photo of herself with a smaller waistline and tighter abs, only to be met with outrage by the body-positive community. It makes you stop and think, what’s body positive about that?
“Where are your curves?!”
“You did lose a lot of weight. I am no longer a fan of yours. You betrayed a lot of people!”
Comments like these have plagued the curve/plus-size model since she posted the image several days ago. She doesn’t even embrace the term “plus-size” to describe herself.
According to E! News, Graham pointed out the obvious, that different camera angles can significantly change the way one looks. Every model should know their “best” or most marketable angles, so it is only natural that Graham employs these tricks of the trade, as well as her chosen fitness routine. These are her choices about her body. When we start pressuring folks about choices regarding their own bodies, we venture through a downward spiral of consent violation, anti-choice legislature and violence against bodies deemed to have no value or autonomy.
“I knew it you did lose a lot of weight! I am no longer a fan of yours you betrayed a lot of people! So I’ll find another plus size beautiful woman bcuz you’re full of s–t!!! #damnshame #justliketherest,” commented one user.
“How can she say ‘I represent the plus size woman’ when she lost half her weight? Now she’s selling her fashion line to plus size women and she lost all that weight? Sorry but I can say whatever the f–k I want! She is a phony. She used to represent the curvy look now she’s getting just like the ones she fought so hard against in the first place.”
Eventually, Graham had had enough of the criticism and stood up for herself with a comment on one of her own photos: “People come on my page and body shame me because I’m too big, because I’m too small, because I’m not good enough for their standards … but at the end of the day I’m good enough for me. Angles will make anyone look bigger or smaller and I just happen to know mine.”
Later, a post of Graham popped up on Snapchat with the caption, “I will not let others dictate what they think my body should look like for their own comfort, and neither should you.”
When we place our expectations on the bodies of others, we remove choice. People, especially women and femmes, are not monoliths, regardless of how we have come to associate them with ideas and movements. One does not have to like a person — or what they are saying or doing — to defend their right to say or do it.
Why has there not been the same backlash when Chris Pratt lost weight for a film, going from chubby babe to a different but equally babely lean and muscular look? Why do we find ourselves so critical of women, femmes and BIPOC and so quick to overlook the change within a white, cis masculine man — or even laud him for it?
If we are going to be truly positive, we have to take a step back from the criticism to see where it really comes from. If she really has lost weight and is aiming to go into modeling straight sizes, it has created another space for up and coming plus size folks to occupy. We have to allow room for folks to grow how they need to and merely exist.
She is not yours and never will be.