Following last year’s first-ever placement of a plus-size model on the cover of their swimsuit issue, Sports Illustrated is continuing the trend this year with model, Ashley Graham.
28 year-old Graham looks curvier than her predecessor, Robyn Lawley, and according to Women’s Health, she boasts an impressive resume of accomplishments. Graham has done everything from giving a TED talk on body positivity, to starring in campaigns for Lane Bryant, modeling lingerie for Addition Elle, and walking in New York Fashion Week’s first ever plus-size show.
This year, the stunning model can add being in a swimsuit spread as one of SI’s contenders for Rookie of the Year to her long list.
Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska, Graham attended Scott Middle School and was discovered at age 12 by a modeling agency, in a mall.
Plus-sized modeling is a practice that can be traced all the way back to Lane Bryant in North America, in the 1920s, when the brand started selling clothing ‘for the stout women’. Agencies waited until the 1970s to represent plus-sized models.
The industry has received criticism stemming from the idea that plus-sized models set an unhealthy example of weight management. However, the average dress size of an American woman is said to be a size 14, and the majority of models represented as plus sized are between a size 6 and a size 12, according to Wikipedia.
In February 2015, Australian model Stefania Ferrario and television presenter Ajay Rochester began a campaign to end the use of the term “plus size” in the modelling industry to describe models who are larger than a US size 4.