Model Behavior is an A Plus series featuring fashion models who promote body positivity, and work to create inclusivity and diversity within the industry by expanding our definition of conventional beauty.
When plus-size model Ashley Graham graced the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue this year, it was a significant moment for her and the modeling industry. With its long history of exclusively skinny, uber-fit models in bikinis on its covers, Graham broke the mold by becoming the first size 16 model featured by the issue — and absolutely killed it.
But with great progress comes great pushback, and this time it was in the form of former SI model Cheryl Tiegs, who criticized Graham's body as unhealthy. "Her face is beautiful. Beautiful," Tiegs said. "But I don't think [her body is] healthy in the long run."
After Graham strutted down the catwalk at the H&M show, E! News asked the model what she thought about Tiegs' comments, and she had this to say:
Cheryl Tiegs may have said what she said and it may have hurt a lot of people's feelings, but my skin is so thick. I kind of rolled my eyes, I was like, "Oh whatever, another one of these ladies." But what's great is that — the fact that she said it — it means that other women think like her. And what that means is that we really need to change the industry.
Tiegs tweeted an apology following the backlash towards her comments, saying that she just wants "everyone to be healthy & happy." The former model may not have meant to cause any harm with her remark, but it does highlight that after decades of asserting a certain body type as the standard for women everywhere, today's progress still does not sit well with some.
For her part, Graham said that if she ever met Tiegs in real life, she would go up to her and say hello.
"All the SI girls, I've always looked up to them," she added. "They are classic, amazing, beautiful women and it's a shame that we have to bring other people down, but that's why I'm here. I've got to bring other women up."
Cover image via Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images Entertainment.