Ashley Graham says fashion is still lacking in diversity but she appreciates designers such as Prabal Gurung, Christian Siriano and Michael Kors, who have been "pioneers for change".
The curvy 31-year-old model is proud to represent a different look in modelling but she still believes the fashion industry has a long way to go.
Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar UK, Ashley said: "What I’m most proud of is that today’s teenagers are witnessing the progress towards more inclusion in the industry. We still lack diversity on the runway, but I appreciate designers like Prabal Gurung, Christian Siriano and Michael Kors, who have been pioneers for these changes. I feel hopeful that things will continue to change.
"I have had to learn to take a step back and acknowledge that things that were never possible are now possible. I’m so proud that young girls are finally looking in the mirror and saying: ‘I love you’."
Ashley also revealed that she prefers to label herself as "curvy" rather than "plus size".
She explained: "How you identify is up to you to decide, not anyone else, which is important to remember. If you identify as plus-size, that’s fine. I started using the term curvy, not because I am no longer a part of the plus-size community, but because body positivity is a broader community than we can imagine. There are girls who are size eight who sometimes say they can’t find clothes, and there are girls who are size 24 who are saying the exact same thing. We have to cater to all types – not only women, but men too.
"I want to advocate for equal representation for all curvy women – all sizes, races and ages."
Ashley is thrilled that she can be a positive role model for curvy women and she loves meeting women who she has inspired.
She explained: "I’ve met so many women who’ve cried in my arms and told me that by sharing my story and my struggle, I’ve allowed them to share theirs. You know, I’ve been the girl alone on the bathroom floor, crying my eyes out because I didn’t think I was good enough. When you meet someone who has given you the authority to say ‘I’m better than I thought,’ that’s a big deal. It just takes a couple of people stamping their feet and saying: "This isn’t the way that we’re going to be treated any more."