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body positivity Ashley Graham: 'I learned to embrace my pregnant body and realise it was my strength as a woman'

Curve icon Ashley Graham reveals that her confidence was once so low she couldn't even look in the mirror - and how pregnancy gave her the ultimate glow up.

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Ashley welcomed her baby son Isaac last January and regularly posts to her 12 million followers on Instagram

Ashley welcomed her baby son Isaac last January and regularly posts to her 12 million followers on Instagram

Ashley welcomed her baby son Isaac last January and regularly posts to her 12 million followers on Instagram

Ashley Graham has long transcended the ilk of 'ordinary' supermodel, if such a term exists. The 33-year-old has become not just the voice but the very face and body of the body positivity movement.

Breaking down barriers and forging for inclusivity in the industry, the plus-size body diversity activist has become synonymous with speaking up.

A role model to women and girls the world over, she's hosted a TEDx Talk entitled 'Plus size? More like my size', launched her own lingerie line and made history in 2016, becoming the first curvy model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. On Instagram she espouses the power of loving yourself every single day to her 12 million followers.

Striving for a utopia where size does not come into the equation, is it any surprise that Ashley is now navigating the perfectly imperfect journey of motherhood with all the courage and candidness that has enamoured her to her fans all over the world?

"Recently I've felt my most beautiful throughout my pregnancy journey," reveals Ashley who welcomed her one-year-old son Isaac into the world last January alongside her director husband Justin Ervin.

"At first it wasn't easy embracing the fact that my body was changing but I soon realised my strength as a woman, and the blessing I was given to be able to carry life and grow my family with my husband Justin."

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Ashley Graham has inspired millions of women to embrace their shape

Ashley Graham has inspired millions of women to embrace their shape

Ashley welcomed her baby son Isaac last January and regularly posts to her 12 million followers on Instagram

Ashley welcomed her baby son Isaac last January and regularly posts to her 12 million followers on Instagram

Ashley has joined forces with St. Tropez

Ashley has joined forces with St. Tropez

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Ashley Graham has inspired millions of women to embrace their shape

As one of the most recognisable faces in the fashion industry, fronting global campaigns from Calvin Klein to Dolce & Gabbana, it's hard to imagine a time when Ashley felt 'other' or 'ugly'. But like so many of her peers, her path to the runway was not without its hardships.

"Discovered in a mall in Nebraska, she moved to New York soon after to pursue her modelling career where she was constantly instructed to lose weight. For Ashley, her confidence has been hard fought for.

"Confidence is a journey and different for everyone," she says. "There were many times in my life that I couldn't recognise my self-worth and truly hated the way I looked in the mirror, but I was fortunate to have been raised by a family that taught me the importance of feeling confident in my own skin.

"Whenever I would struggle with my confidence, my mother would remind me that my body had the ability to change someone's life one day."

Now, the adoring mother practices daily affirmations to solidify her self-worth.

"My daily mantra is: 'You are bold, you are brilliant and you are beautiful'. I started affirmations because at one point I couldn't even look in the mirror and confidently say 'I love you'.

"When you think and speak positively about yourself, you change your entire state of mind. You become more self-assured and worthy."

Following in the footsteps of supermodel Kate Moss, the superstar has just been unveiled as St. Tropez's new global brand ambassador. It seems like a natural fit, because tanning is just another extension of the businesswoman's self-care routine.

"I started using self tanner after I realised how damaging tanning beds can be for your skin. In high school, we would sometimes tan every day, or even twice a day. A few years later I really started noticing the effects. The first time I self tanned was for a modelling job.

"After I saw how fast, easy and safe it was, I never went to a tanning bed again.

"I have always taken great care of my skin and have been mindful of the amount of sun exposure I receive. I come from a family of farmers who spent lots of time in the sun without knowing the effects of constant skin exposure.

"I love that St. Tropez products allow you to achieve a really natural looking glow throughout the year without having to spend extended amounts of time in the sun. Therefore I started spray tanning and using self tanner products to achieve a glow in a healthier, safer and quicker way."

So what are the beauty guru's top tanning tips?

"Less is more," she urges. "And always use a mitt - no one wants stained palms! Given my schedule, I especially love the Self Tan Express Mousse, as it's so quick and easy to use.

"For an everyday glow, I love the Purity Bronzing Water range which hydrates while they tan. I literally just spritz and glow."


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