Tonight, Tyra Banks is making her big comeback to America’s Next Top Model, but sorry not sorry, co-judge Ashley Graham is still our favorite part of the reality modeling competition. For her second season on ANTM, Ashley is stealing the spotlight with her advice and, let’s face it, her undeniable beauty.
However, the 30-year-old is not as well known as her smizing co-star, leaving viewers with lots of questions about the Nebraska native. Ashley made headlines in 2016 as the first plus-sized model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. “I see my cover and I wanted to drop to my knees but this dress would’ve ripped and I have Spanx on underneath this,” jokingly said after making history. “I thought Sports Illustrated was taking a risk by putting a girl my size in the pages. But putting me on the cover? They aren’t just breaking barriers; they are the standard now. This is beyond epic.”
But what else is there to know about Ashley beyond her modeling career? Keep reading below for more fun facts about the brunette beauty!
She is 100% American!
Originally from Lincoln, NE, Ashley’s ethnicity is mostly German and English. However, Ashley has been very outspoken about race, after tying the knot with her husband, Justin Ervin, who is African-American. In her memoir, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, she revealed her grandmother acknowledge her black hubby when they first met. “When it came time for them to leave, my grandparents didn’t even acknowledge him. Instead, my grandmother looked me in the eye, with Justin standing behind me, and said, ‘Tell that guy I said goodbye,'” she wrote. “After they left I took Justin on a ride to get out of the house. I’ll never forget what he said as we drove around town: ‘Racism is never surprising but always disappointing.'”
However, her husband was able to win her family over.
“I think it is absolutely amazing that [Justin] pushed his pride aside and said, You know what? This is my future wife, and this is her grandmother,'” she told Cosmopolitan. “I’m going to do what anyone — regardless of race, class, or gender — would do. I’m going to reach out and talk to her because I want a relationship with her.'” After calling to congratulate her grandmother on her sixtieth wedding anniversary, Justin instantly changed her opinion.
She is more than just her measurements.
Ashley has been very open about being a size-16 shape but makes it very clear she is over the “plus-size” label. “I think the word ‘plus-sized’ is so divisive to women,” she said on CBS Sunday Morning. “I think that when you use the word ‘plus-size,’ you’re putting all these women into a category.”
She also went on to explain how the term perpetuates negative stereotypes. “‘You don’t eat well. You don’t work out. You couldn’t care less about your body. You’re insecure. You have no confidence.’ And that is none of this.” Preach, girl!
She has her own Barbie doll!
Her perseverance in the fashion industry paid off — and Ashley got her very own doll (or should we say action figure?) “We need to work together to redefine the global image of beauty and continue to push for a more inclusive world,” Ashley said in a statement. “I’m thrilled Barbie has not only evolved their product but also has continued to honor women who are pushing boundaries. It’s an honor to be immortalized in plastic.”
And Ashley made sure the doll was as close to real-life as possible, meaning there was no thigh-gap. “The thighs touching was one way to show young girls that it’s okay for your thighs to touch, despite society saying that a ‘thigh gap’ is more beautiful,” she continued.
Now, all she needs is her Victoria’s Secret runway debut.
The lingerie company is known for its very strict model requirements when it comes to their annual runway show, but we think Ashley is the perfect person to prove sexy is sizeless. “We are here to stay and you can tell by how many designers are putting us on the runway, how many covers we’re on, and the fact that in the last 3 years I’ve never seen more progression in the curve world than ever before and I’ve been doing this for 18 years,” she said in the past. “We’re not a trend.”
Be sure to tune in to the premiere of ANTM tonight, Jan. 9, at 8 p.m. on VH1.