As many of you can observe, our culture is image-obsessed, celebrity-obsessed and self-absorbed, and we are inundated with images from our social media feeds nonstop.
Recently, plus-size model Ashley Graham gave a TED talk about shifting our culture called “Plus-Size? More Like My Size.” The talk was about accepting other forms of “beauty,” which is defined by our unrealistic standards in our culture from magazines, Photoshop and the pressure to look perfect.
Ashley says: “We need role models for young girls who say, ‘Embrace your curves. Who cares that your body isn’t perfect?’ There’s too much anorexia, obesity and suicide in this generation and nobody is addressing the issue. Young girls don’t have much to look at. Curvy women are not on covers of magazines; they’re not talked about on social media as much as other celebrities.”
She discusses body image, confidence and self-worth, and gives a candid monologue in the mirror about her “back fat,” “cellulite” and loving all of her body parts. She goes against the grain of society and wants to break the mold of “perfection.” She doesn’t just call herself a model, but also a “body activist.” Ashley talks about “plus sizes,” which start at American sizes 8-16, which is normal sizing for women in society, and is negatively labeling people in some ways, according to her perspective. She expresses her concern of labeling people, and wants to redefine what being a model really means.
When Ashley was just 13 years old, she was signed to a major modeling agency and started traveling to different countries. She moved to New York at just 17 years old, while people were experiencing normal high school experiences. Ashley was doing catwalks and casting calls, and felt that she was up against a lot of pressure in the modeling world. (Sounds similar to Nicole’s story; click here to watch Nicole’s testimonial video.)
She was known as the “fat model” in high school in Nebraska. She always felt she had to explain herself when she would tell people that she was a model, because she always got a surprised look from people when she would say it. Ashley, after telling people what she did, would then later would justify being a model by saying, “Well, I am a plus-model.” Her confidence and self-worth were being torn apart at such a young age. She started looking to alcohol, guys, parties, affirmation from other sources because she didn’t even love herself.
PI Girls, this makes me want to ask you a question: Who affirms you? Who do you get self-confidence from? What do you run to? Do you run to God? Or do you run to the world instead of Jesus? Only God can fill your heart with satisfaction, love and self-confidence! Jesus loves you, and your worth is so priceless that the Son of God died for YOU. Yes, you!
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7)
You are ALREADY accepted, loved, adored and adopted as God’s daughter, a true Princess of the King of Kings! (Psalm 139, 2 Peter 2) You are beautiful the way God made you! We don’t need man’s approval, because it disappoints and it is temporal. Only God’s approval matters, girls!
Back to Ashley’s story.
Dove did a survey (for a global report in 10 different countries) with thousands of women on beauty and only 2% of women find themselves beautiful, according to the study! Wow! This is a sad statistic, but guess what? We needy to reverse this and start walking in the gifting, anointing, calling and allegiance to the Lord. We need to arm ourselves with the truth and the Word of God, and believe what God’s Word says about us, not what culture says. Amen? (Read Ephesians 6 on the full armor of God.)
“We need to work together to redefine the global vision of beauty.” —Ashley Graham
As a curvy woman, Ashley felt that society put on her who she should look up to as a role model (like Marilyn Monroe, J-Lo because of her curves). Ashley said instead of these celebrities, she actually looked up to her mother as a role model, because her mom never devalued her. Her mother always said that true beauty comes from within. She had to reclaim her body and her image, and wants to give a voice to young women who don’t know who they can look up to. She “wants to help girls who struggle to look in the mirror and say, ‘I love you,’ and wants to help “those who relinquished their rights to someone else.”
She also said that “it is critical that both men and women create a body positive environment” and to “create a safe space for them.” She wants people to be loved for “who they ARE, not who they are NOT.” She encourages authenticity and uplifting those around you with encouragement. #TEDXBV15
Ashley doesn’t want to be defined by her size. She had to learn to reclaim her body as her own. She now knows she has a greater purpose in the $18 billion industry. She feels the term “plus size” is labeling and degrading in some ways and believes beauty is beyond size, and would prefer to be a woman making a difference in people’s lives. Ashley has gone against mainstream society and has for the most part tried to change the way people see women—she wants you to know if you can believe it, you can do it.
She has been on magazine covers and has done the impossible, according to some critics who used to tell her she couldn’t model. Her story is inspiring. I agree with the inner beauty portion of her testimony in that she doesn’t want to be compared to the culture, but in her own unique person. I can relate this spiritually with being set apart and not conforming to the world’s ways; just because something is cool or popular doesn’t mean you have to do it. Ashley wants to be an inspiration to those who have issues with self-confidence by sharing her story.
PI Girls, I pray this article impacts you and touches your life. Comment below on how you deal with body image issues and what helps you to boost your confidence. My confidence is boosted when I read the Bible and His Word, like Proverbs 31. I also love listening to worship music filled with truth. What about you?
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