Ashley Graham has a new clothing line, and with it, plenty to say about the fashion industry and meeting the needs of women of all shapes and sizes. Making history with her Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover, she’s continuing as a vocal proponent of a positive body image no matter what one’s size.

Photo: Ashley Graham
Credit: Instagram

The 28-year-old Ashley Graham by now is arguably among the most well known plus size models in the world, although she eskews that label. In fact, telling Ellen DeGEeeres in a television interview “I just like to call it curva-sexalicious.”

While she’s been a rising star in the fashion world for some time, she’s achieving household-name recognition now after making history a the first woman ever of her physique to make the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, as one of three women on three separate covers, the others being Ronda Rousey and Hailey Clauson.

Now she has launched her new fashion line, Beyond by Ashley Graham for Dressbarn for the discount retailer Dress. In an interview with Yahoo Tech she revealed why she chose to partner with the company, saying, “They are a company that is not only fashionable, but they’re affordable.” And in fact, her own clothing line for the company ranges in prices from $48 to $66.

She went on to describe her overall fashion philosophy, saying, “My mantra is ‘beauty beyond size,’ and I wanted to live that through a collection, because you go from a size 4 to 24.”

Continuing she added, “I wanted to design for every type of woman, and that’s exactly what I got to do. That’s what Dressbarn has done from the get-go. They’ve never just had a straight size or a plus size, and they never altered the clothes or the styles.”

She also opened up about her forays on the runway, most notably, her inclusion in the Paris Fashion Week H&M show which saw her alongside the other models, and not relegated to a “plus size” category.

She said, “I’ve done a couple campaigns now where they included me with the ‘straight size’ models. … I don’t even know what to call ’em anymore, there are so many labels on all of us! I think we’re headed in that direction, where I’m not ‘the other,’ or the tagalong. I think it’s going at a very slow pace still, but it’s great working with people like Dressbarn. Change is coming. Slowly. Hopefully in the next year, you’ll see a lot more of it.”

She made an appearance on GMA (video below) both to promote the new clothing line, of course, but true to form, to offer what’s become her signature inspiration and empowerment for women. While on the show, she worked with three women to give them a makeover with her new fashions. And that’s an important component, and Graham has shown herself more than willing to take criticism and confront it with courage and grace.

She recent saw herself in a bit of a media-manufactured spat when supermodel Cheryl Tiegs’ comments on the Sports Illustrated cover went viral. At the time Tiegs who told said. “I don’t like that we’re talking about full-figured women because it’s glamorizing them because your waist should be smaller than 35 [inches].” She added, “That’s what Dr. Oz said, and I’m sticking to it.” She added, “No, I don’t think it’s healthy. Her face is beautiful. Beautiful. But I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run.”

After the expected firestorm erupted, Tiegs made a formal written apology and said in part that she was not addressing her comments to Ashley Graham’s SI cover, but that she was answering a “generic question.”

She reiterated the health concerns and even linked to some authoritative Web sites including the CDC and Harvard University. After admitting her waist size is 37 inches and thus outside of the recommendation, she then added, “I worry about the influence that print media has on this issue and I care about the health of all Americans. If it becomes the norm, then what happens with rates of diabetes, cancer and heart disease? This has nothing to do with beauty.”

More than anything it goes to show how and why this is a difficult conversation in an era so fraught with political correctness, real conversation and dialogue is stifled.

Prior to the apology Ashley Graham had offered some eloquent comments, saying in part, “I kind of rolled my eyes. I was like, ‘Oh whatever, another one of these ladies.’ But what’s great is that — the fact that she said it — it means that other women think like her. And what that means is that we really need to change the industry.”

Continuing, she added, “There are too many people thinking they can look at a girl my size and say that we are unhealthy. You can’t, only my doctor can!”

In a previous interview, she addressed these typical health criticisms and said, ” “I’ve been told I’m a promoter of diabetes, and those people are just uneducated.” Continuing, she added, “What’s crucial is that you’re working towards your best self, whatever that may mean for you. “The healthier you are, the more comfortable you’ll be in your own skin. And that’s all that matters.”

Yes Ashley Graham forges on, detractors and perceived detractors aside. Her new clothing line has numerous potential customers since the norm in America is not the size zero runway model. Graham is rapidly building a career as both a role model and an entrepreneur for a population that is alternately scorned and coddled.

You can see photos of Ashley Graham and her new fashion line below!