Ashley Graham admits that sometimes she feels like she can't win.
Last week, the model shared a stunning photo of herself on set of America's Next Top Model and was criticized by some of her Instagram followers for appearing slimmer. In an op-ed for Lena Dunham's Lenny letter, Graham speaks out about the negative comments she receives about her body.
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"To some I’m too curvy. To others I’m too tall, too busty, too loud, and, now, too small -- too much, but at the same time not enough. When I post a photo from a 'good angle,' I receive criticism for looking smaller and selling out," she writes. "When I post photos showing my cellulite, stretch marks, and rolls, I’m accused of promoting obesity. The cycle of body-shaming needs to end. I’m over it."
While Graham, who says she's a size 14, has been accused of slimming down to meet Hollywood standards, she insists that she "hasn't lost a pound" this year. "In fact, I’m actually heavier than I was three years ago, but I accept my body as it is today," she says. "I work out not to lose weight but to maintain my good health. And anyway, if I did want to lose weight, it would be no one's decision but my own."
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As a self-proclaimed body activist, Graham says her goal is to be here "for all women who don’t feel comfortable in their skin, who need a reminder that their unique bodies are beautiful."
"I understand that people follow me and look at my photos to see a different representation of beauty, one that is often excluded from mainstream media and advertising," she continues. "However, I refuse to let others dictate how I live my life and what my body should look like for their own comfort. And neither should you."
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Graham hopes that speaking out will help put an end to all the energy spent "spewing negativity."
"I am more than my measurements. I’m not Ashley Graham just because I’m curvy," she concludes. "Let’s worry about our own bodies. My body is MY body. I’ll call the shots."
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In a candid interview with ET in May, Graham opened up about the struggles she faced coming up in the modeling industry. "I think I was about 18 years old, and I already had an agent tell me that I needed to lose weight, I had clients tell me I needed to lose weight," she recalled. "I still didn't have that gumption to lose weight for them. It was truly, it came from within. It was, 'Are you healthy? Are you happy? Is this a woman you want to hang out with?' And all those answers were no."
After incorporating healthier habits, Graham proclaimed, "I'm a woman, I am a model and I'm happy exactly where I am."