I’m in the changing room of a fashion shoot with Ashley Graham when she reaches out to cop a feel. “You have a molded bra on!” the model, muse, and entrepreneur exclaims, and while I am not a person who would typically endure a grope, in this case it’s all in good fun—and a day’s work: Graham, it turns out, is a bit of a bra whisperer. After being held up as the plus size poster girl for the market for a multiple years, she has gone on to create her own lingerie line with Addition Elle, one which caters to plus size women. Here, Graham talks about her move behind the camera, the ever-changing fashion industry, and the key to feeling alluring, no matter what size you are.
“As ‘the lingerie girl of America,’ I’m always a little bit half naked. So I contacted a plus size distributor in Canada, Addition Elle—I was actually the face of the company for five years—and said, ‘Lets do a line!’ We had a conversation, and next thing you know, there was a contract written up and bada bing bada boom! The line has already been out for a year now. It is launching at Nordstrom in April and it just launched in Europe.
We cater to a larger breast, starting at a 36 DD and going up to a 44 Triple DD. In April we are going to have G’s and H’s, which I’m so excited about because I had no idea, but that market is major. It is really hard to find lingerie that’s both supportive and sexy. I’m a sexy girl who likes to wear see-through shirts with lace popping out, and I really wanted that in my size. My own style is sexy, supportive, and wild. I like a little wild during the day and no one knows about it, but when you get wild later everyone is going to know about it. And for sure your man is going to see it, so it is nice to have a little wild under your shirt.
As for sizing, honestly the majority of women are wearing the wrong size bra. The circumference of the bra is usually too big; if you are pulling your bra down in the back—it’s too big. If you are manually scooping your breasts back into the right position—the circumference is too big. If you have a muffin top, over the cup—it’s too small, and if your straps are falling down your shoulders—you need to tighten that. Those are common issues, and if any of those things are happening to you, you need to go get measured for a new bra.
When I started out in the plus size modeling industry fifteen years ago there were a couple girls who had big names but it was nothing like it is now. It’s really only in the past five years that it has started booming. Now there’s a big demand for women with curves and shapes, and honestly, this, curves, thick chicks, this is not a trend—it’s here to stay. I know people say that everything comes in waves, from the Kate [Moss]’s in the nineties to the models like Cindy [Crawford] and Linda [Evangelista] and now Kate Upton, but honestly, plus size and curvy models aren’t going anywhere.
Growing up, I was told to look up to J.Lo, to Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren, because I was curvy and because those girls were curvy. But, honestly, for me there’s never been one woman that I’ve looked to and thought, “I want to be like her.” The person who I looked up to the most was my mother. She never complained about being a ‘big girl’ and was just happy with the body that she was given. I got most of my confidence by having a mother who never said ‘I don’t like this or this.’ It was just, ‘You’ve got to love what you have because it is the only body that has been given.’ I know that is where a lot of my confidence came from. These days I do look up to Cindy [Crawford] and Heidi [Klum] who have built this whole empire around them. In modeling, there are so many more outlets that you can get into, so much more to talk about and opportunities to do what you are passionate about—it’s not just about being a pretty girl in a magazine.”
The post The Secret Life of Models: Ashley Graham On Building a Bra Empire appeared first on Vogue.