It’s a sign of how broken our perceptions of women’s body ideals are that someone as objectively gorgeous and healthy-looking as Ashley Graham feeling good about herself is a big deal. And yet, here we are.
On Monday, the model posted a photo from right after the birth of her son Isaac in January. This isn’t a strategically staged photo of a new baby, where the mom is barely visible, beaming at her bundle of joy with everything below her neck cropped out. Instead, Graham’s whole body is visible, and she is lying on her side with her distended belly on full display. She looks happy and proud, as does the team behind her, including her husband Justin Ervin, doula Latham Thomas, and a midwife.
“Thank you to this phenomenal team for making my labor and delivery so smooth,” Graham wrote.
During and after her pregnancy, Graham regularly posted photos of the way her body was changing and was candid about what those changes felt like.
She said it was sometimes hard to see herself getting bigger, given all of the deeply engrained messages about beauty women are subjected to, but she made an effort to embrace her body for what it was able to do.
“We all have complicated relationships with our body,” she told Grazia. “Mine has been changing in some new and interesting ways. It hasn’t been easy to embrace my pregnant body, but it’s definitely a reminder of how awesome our bodies truly are.”
And on Sunday, the day before sharing her nine-month anniversary photo, Graham posted another photo of herself: It’s a bathroom mirror selfie, where she’s naked, crossed arms covering her breasts.
“Nakie big girl,” she wrote in the caption.
Of course, Graham isn’t even that much bigger than your standard runway model. But the reaction to even that slight deviation — the photo features visible stretch marks and curves that stick out rather than jut in — is telling.
The comments were pretty appreciative, too.
“Nakie Big Girl ™️ when are we getting the varsity jackets printed?” stylist Gabriella Karefa-Johnson wrote.
“Full frontal gorgeousness 😍,” said model Janice Dickinson.
A few differet people simply wrote, “Perfection.”
We hope that one day, everyone who gives birth will automatically feel empowered by and proud of their body for what they have accomplished, and our society will focusing more on the parents’ and babies’ mental and physical health rather than the shedding of postpartum pounds. But for the world we live in now, we’re glad Graham is doing what she’s doing.