Ashley Graham used to think being "pretty" meant you had to be be sexy.
The 29-year-old model has spoken about the many "mistakes" she made early on in her career in her new book, ‘A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty and Power Really Look Like’, and admits she felt like she would have been more accepted if people wanted to have sex with her.
Speaking to Vogue, the brunette beauty – who signed to Wilhelmina Models in 2001 – said: "I’m not going to just give you the story half-assed–I’m going to give it to you full-on. For me, being pretty was wrapped up in sex. Being accepted was wrapped up in sex. I don’t want women to think like that. I want them to learn from my mistakes."
In the book, Ashley – who is married to Justin Ervin – recalls when she was sexually assaulted aged 10 by the son of her parents’ friends, and said it was difficult reading those pages aloud in a recent recital because it’s a taboo topic that people, especially women, rarely discuss with each other.
The author explained: "When you read it out loud, it’s even more powerful to talk about being sexually assaulted because women just don’t do it. It’s not a natural conversation that you have with your girlfriends."
Ashely is proud of the impact her story has had on women her age and younger, and thinks it’s because she hasn’t been afraid to open up.
She said: "I think that the more vulnerable I was, the easier it was going to be for someone to relate to me.
"I definitely think that my body has changed many peoples’ lives. I’ve used my body as a tool to talk about taboo subjects, such as cellulite or being insecure about lower belly fat–and also [how to] talk life into your body and have an affirmation kind of conversation with yourself. And I know the lives that have been."