Ashley Graham has long been a body positive activist, but her recent pregnancy has taken her efforts to a whole new level. Since announcing the happy news, the 32-year-old has shared naked selfies of her growing body, empowering women all over the world. And now, she is sharing the emotional backstory behind the photos.
In a new clip from her digital series, Fearless with Ashley Graham, the host sits down with a fan to discuss body acceptance during and post-pregnancy. Speaking with Taylor Hoit, a mother of four and just one of many women who was inspired by Graham’s photos, they open up to each other about the realities of it all. The two women connected after Hoit recreated Graham’s pregnancy photos on Instagram; Graham liked the photo.
“This body has grown four children,” Hoit wrote in the caption of her post. “This same body gave birth to two of those children 10 weeks ago and somehow I find myself struggling to accept this body as if it didn’t just give birth.” Inspired by Hoit’s honesty, Graham explains on her series that posting such an unfiltered photo on the platform wasn’t an easy decision and that she was also struggling with acceptance.
“It’s interesting that you say that because the reason why I had posted that original photo, I had just announced that I was pregnant, and I thought then I was going to feel good and I didn’t. I just felt terrible. And that morning, actually … ” Graham says, as she begins to cry. “That morning, I was like, ‘Get it together, Ashley, there’s other women out there that are going through the same thing as you — why don’t you have a dialogue?’”
Graham continued: “This is a new body I’m walking into, why don’t I just put myself out there with this new body? I felt so isolated and so alone, so I’ve had to come into this new world of body confidence.”
She ultimately chose to start that dialogue, and it paid off. The model announced she was pregnant in August of this year, her first child with husband Justin Ervin. The pair shared a sweet video revealing Graham’s bump, on the same day they celebrated their wedding anniversary. She then went onto share a number of photos of pregnancy journey and inspiring messages with her followers.
Dealing with the physical and emotional changes of motherhood can be extremely isolating, but Graham is on a mission to start a conversation and make women feel heard. At her baby shower last week, Graham told PEOPLE that one of the best parts of her pregnancy journey has been bonding with other mothers. “There were six pregnant moms at the shower, who’ve all been a part of my support system,” she said. “We talk about all of the different aspects of pregnancy and motherhood, especially around taking care of ourselves as well.”