Ashley Graham is not only an advocate for plus-size women, she’s also a voice for victims of domestic abuse. In the August issue of Cosmopolitan (which hits newsstands July 12), the conversation-changing cover girl discusses how her involvement with an alcoholic affected her feelings of self-worth.
Nearly 30 percent of American women and (10 percent of men) have been stalked, raped or physically assaulted by a partner. However, most cases of domestic violence go unreported out of fear — of retaliation, of public stigma, of giving up one’s privacy. Just look at what happened when Amber Heard spoke out against Johnny Depp (she was maligned by the Internet) or Rihanna against Chris Brown (he still has a successful music career).
On June 27, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of Voisine v. United States, which holds that the 1996 federal law that bans convicted domestic abusers from owning guns applies to “reckless” misdemeanor-class assaults in addition to intentional crimes. With this ruling, the Supreme Court made it harder for domestic abusers to get their hands on weapons and underlined the gravity of domestic violence (after all, we know how hesitant they are when it comes to stopping Americans from owning guns).
Days later, Ashley Graham shared her domestic violence history with Cosmopolitan: “He was abusive in more than one way… He threw a couch on me. He came home drunk. I was sitting on it, and he flipped it upside down. I remember my elbow being jammed but thinking, He didn’t hit me; he was just really angry, you know? You hear stories of women who say the exact same thing—I wasn’t showing up with bruises, he wasn’t beating me every day. Looking back, I should’ve left, but I was an insecure woman in a terrible relationship who did not know herself.”
Her thoughts on racism in America also resonate all too loudly in the wake of Alton Sterling’s death. Graham told the glossy she frequently deals with Internet trolls who remark on her interracial marriage. “One comment on Instagram was ‘I knew a girl her size could only be with a black guy.’ I think that’s so ugly. But we talk about the fact that I’m white and he’s black all the time. I’ve seen how racist America is. It’s opened my eyes to how ignorant I have been, how white privilege has taken over a lot of my thoughts and actions because it’s just something that I take for granted.”
Finally, perhaps the least interesting of her comments (but the one that’s sure to get a lot of play in the media) relates to Amy Schumer. Of Schumer’s reaction to Glamour implying the comedian is plus-size, Graham said: “I can see both sides, but Amy talks about being a big girl in the industry. You thrive on being a big girl, but when you’re grouped in with us, you’re not happy about it? That, to me, felt like a double standard.” On the other hand, Ashley herself has made a conscious decision to move past the label. “Just because I’m not calling myself plus-size doesn’t mean I’m not representing a woman who is…I’m giving curvy women a seat at a table that we’ve never been invited to before—a table with high-end fashion people who have never considered us beautiful.”
Plus-size or not, both women have the means to comment on pressing current events and make themselves heard (whether or not the timing of the words is mere coincidence) and we’re glad to have them at our collective table.
UPDATE: Apparently, Amy Schumer can see both sides too. After word of Graham’s Cosmo interview reached the Trainwreck actress, Amy tweeted her support for Ashley, and the two shared the following (adorable/inspiring) exchange:
I totally understand Ashley’s feelings. I don’t group myself in with her because she is unbelievably beautiful. Nothing but respect for her
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) July 7, 2016
I have the greatest respect for @amyschumer! So glad to be able to exchange thoughts, ideas & opinions w/ another incredible female force.
— Ashley Graham (@theashleygraham) July 7, 2016
.@theashleygraham Rock on girl. I’m so grateful for you. You inspire me!!!
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) July 7, 2016
[ via Cosmopolitan ]