It’s hard out there for a plus-size model these days. Just ask Ashley Graham. Yes, her career seems to be in overdrive lately — she recently got her own Barbie doll and earlier this year became the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue — but as she seems to be breaking down barriers, there are startling setbacks along the way too.
Consider the latest. Graham appears on the cover of the January issue of Vogue U.K., the first time a plus-size model has graced the magazine’s front page. Behind the scenes though, the editor-in-chief of the magazine revealed this week, Graham’s appearance on the cover was marred by an undercurrent of fat-shaming. In her monthly letter to readers, Alexandra Shulman wrote that Coach was the only brand that was enthusiastic about providing outfits for Graham. “Sadly there were other houses that flatly refused to lend us their clothes,” Shulman explained. “It seems strange to me that while the rest of the world is desperate for fashion to embrace broader definitions of physical beauty, some of our most famous fashion brands appear to be traveling in the opposite — and, in my opinion, unwise — direction.” As BuzzFeed notes, the average American woman is a size 16, so it might make sound business sense for some of these fashion brands to broaden their target market.
Meanwhile, in recent months Graham has actually slimmed down a bit — something that’s not gone unnoticed by fans and followers on the internet. Some of them have actually body-shamed the model for losing too much weight, CNN reports, after she posted photos of herself on social media showing her more toned figure. The criticism seemed to start with a vague tweet by a London-based Twitter account called Fashion Foie Gras that boasts more than 64,000 followers. A flood of criticism followed, with some accusing Graham of a betrayal.
“Where are your curves?!” wondered one user on social media. Another wrote, “You did lose a lot of weight. I am no longer a fan of yours. You betrayed a lot of people!” Of course Graham by now is somewhat accustomed to all of the negative commentary about her physique. When she appeared on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue, former Sports Illustrated cover girl Cheryl Tiegs commented on Graham’s weight, saying, “Her face is beautiful, beautiful. But I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run.” After a backlash, Tiegs apologized for the remark.
Read the full story at BuzzFeed.