Ashley Graham may be a supermodel now, but she didn’t always believe it would happen.
The Sports Illustrated swimsuit model covers Self magazine's October issue, where she opens up on how she learned to accept her body, and how she hopes others will do the same.
"I always felt second best. I was never the prettiest, never the skinniest, never the fastest in my sports. Never the smartest, because I have dyslexia," she shares. "Then, all of the sudden, people were like, 'You're gorgeous.' And I was like, 'What?!'"
While the encouragement of others helped launch Graham's career as a model, her true success started once she learned to accept herself. "I had to realize that if I didn't really love who I was and if I couldn't appreciate this -- my body -- as my moneymaker, then I wasn't going to make any money," she confesses.
"I'm trying to change how women think about themselves. Some people just don't get it," she says of her mission to help others. "I've been denied jobs because I was too big. I've also been denied jobs because I was too small. At the end of the day, I'm never going to conform to what anybody wants. This is my body; I'm happy in it."
Graham's happiness with her body didn't come easily, and the model admits that her lack of self-confidence made her stay in bad relationships. "I dated all the wrong men. I thought I could feel appreciated in my body through guys," she says, claiming that one ex-boyfriend threw her up against a wall. "I didn't know how to get out then because I was so insecure."
But Graham eventually found her value -- and the right man -- in her husband of five years, Justin Ervin. "'I was like, 'Look, I'm not having sex 'til I'm married.' And he was like, 'Great! Let's not.' We stuck to it," she tells the magazine. "[On our Jamaican honeymoon], we had sex all the time for, like, 10 days."
Graham clearly isn't shy about discussing her time in the bedroom.
ET sat down with the model earlier this year, where she gushed about the boost of confidence she gets from her husband.
"There was this sexual tension, this roaringness," she dished. "We had already established such a friendship that we had the two combine. Which, in my mind, just made magic, because now not only am I sleeping with someone that I trust and I love, but I know that he wants me. He affirms me all the time and lets me know how sexy and beautiful I am."
See more in the video below.