Wise Words from Ashley Graham

  I’ve long admired Ashley Graham. Yes, the size-16 model, entrepreneur, body activist, queen of fleek and all around slayer of lives.

  So when I was asked to interview Ashley for a People.com article (you can read that here :), I died, came back to life, jumped out of my skin and died again (not literally, of course). 

  Ashley will be backstage host at this year’s Miss USA competition and, during our interview, she gushed for 30 minutes about her eagerness to meet the 52 contestants, how important her presence at the event is and her overall excitement about the hosting gig. But before all that, I had a bit of revealing to do.

 “Before we begin, I want to let you know that I am a person who stutters,” I began. “This just means that it may take me a bit longer to speak. So, I ask that you be patient with me.”

  And Ashley was so sweet, she assured me that my impediment was “totally fine” and wouldn’t be a problem. She even added in a “Girl, you’re good! Don’t worry about that!” 

 ***

  Ashley’s message is one I could get behind: there is beauty beyond size and social standards. She gushed about how her being at the Miss USA competition would open the door for other women with her body type to join the competition. 

   She spoke of the “courageous” contestants who are “using their beauty to change the world” and how she plans to tie in her empowering message that society’s standards should never dictate how we feel about ourselves.

  Of course, I had to talk about my stutter. I told her how her message applies to my life as a person who stutters and I expressed to her that, at several points in my life, I allowed society's expectations of my speech to dictate my self confidence.

  And she went in, sharing wisdom with me that I believe will be beneficial to all of you.

    “It’s not just the exterior, it’s the interior. There are things that people tell you are wrong about you. Things that people have said, ‘that’s not beautiful. It’s not right. It’s not perfect.’ It doesn’t matter. Those things don’t matter,” Ashley told me.

  “You seem like a very confident person and you’re not letting things society has said are bad … you’re not letting them change your perception of who you are. I think that’s fantastic about yourself. That's the message I want to get across to any person.”