Body Activist and Model Ashley Graham on Being a 'Disrupter' in the Fashion Industry

PHOTO: Model Ashley Graham is joining "Good Morning America" this week for a special series on body image.PlayMichael Stewart/Getty Images
WATCH Ashley Graham on Being a 'Disrupter' in Fashion

Ashley Graham is a 28-year-old model and designer who, at size 14, is no stranger to breaking barriers.

The Lincoln, Nebraska, native made history last year as the first so-called curvy model to have an ad in the iconic Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. When she flaunted her figure on the runway in her new Modern Boudoir lingerie line for Addition Elle in September, her New York Fashion Week debut generated huge buzz online.

Graham also generates huge buzz for what she does behind the camera and off the runway, making it her personal mission to be a "disrupter" in a fashion industry that is known for highlighting stick-thin models and a singular look.

Tune into "Good Morning America" all week for Graham's special “‘GMA’ Body Proud” series featuring real conversations about body image with women of all ages.

"I am doing this, fighting in the body activism, because I want younger girls and the younger generation to not have to fight as hard as I fought all these 15 years of my career," Graham said in a first-person video for ABC News. "I want women to know that they are beautiful no matter what size, age or ethnicity that they are."

Graham, also a part of Lane Bryant’s #PlusIsEqual movement, said her work as a "body-activist" for "curvy" and "plus-size" women has evolved into something even greater than what she set out to do.

"I also like to think of myself as a disrupter in the fashion industry," she said. "I have come into a world that has been only accepting of thin bodies, of fit bodies, and saying women of my size aren’t fit. But I truly believe, as a body activist, that we can look beyond the stereotype of a model, that we can look beyond the stereotype of what fit can actually be and actually see people for who they really are."

Graham says that when it comes to offering advice to young women, she has clear words: become your own role model.

"Growing up, I didn’t have anybody that I could look up to, that looked like me, that was confident, that talked about their curves, their cellulite, their rolls, their back fat, the jiggle in their arms," Graham said. "I want to be that for young girls. I want to be the women that no one else is talking about, having those ‘flaws’ that society says are flaws."

Appearing on "Good Morning America" today alongside her own mom, Linda, Graham encouraged young girls with three tips to become "body proud."

1) Give Love to Your Flaws. "I really want women to start looking in the mirror and looking at those things that they call flaws and start saying, 'I love you. I love you back fat. I love you cellulite,' because that’s what’s really going to change your mind."

2) Work Out for Endorphins. "I also think that working out is very important because you release these endorphins in your brain that constantly keep you happy. I think working out two to three times a week is very important."

3) Become Your Own Role Model. "If you’re looking in the mirror and you don’t see yourself as a role model, then there’s a huge problem there. Yes you should have role models in your life but not because of how many Instagram followers they have or how big their booty is, it should really, truly be about because of what they’re doing to change things in the world."

Graham's mom, Linda, encouraged moms like herself to keep up their self esteem by helping others and to help their daughters by focusing on what is right with their bodies instead of what is wrong.

She also said that if moms are struggling to stay positive, they should fake it until they make it.

"Just keep doing it and finally it becomes automatic," she said.

Tune into "Good Morning America" all week for Graham's special “‘GMA’ Body Proud” series featuring real conversations about body image with women of all ages.

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