"Honey, I'm always X-rated," Ashley Graham told The Lookbook. We'd just asked the superstar model to participate in a quick-fire round of questions related to her bedroom behavior—she was, after all, at Nordstrom Oakbrook Center to promote her Addition Elle x Ashley Graham lingerie collection. But we assured her we'd stick to G-rated topics (womp, womp.) So, if you must know: Ashley keeps a mouth guard, ear plugs, and a glass of water on her bedside. "Sexy," she deadpans. According to her husband, Ashley is an active—and talkative—sleeper, and she sips a cup of peppermint tea before crawling into bed each night. But what she wears in the bedroom isn't nearly so safe.
The body activist, who wore a completely sheer, Alexander McQueen blouse for her appearance, says: "Any good outfit starts with the bra." And while she added plenty of sexy touches to her latest collaboration with Addition Elle—the silky pieces are trimmed with embroidered mesh, cut-out details, and glittering rhinestone details—Ashley looks for one thing in a piece of lingerie: support. "These 36 DDDs do not stand where they did when I was 13," she says. "I haven't even had kids yet, and God forbid! So, for me, it's really about support first and foremost. Secondly, I want to know that lingerie is going to be long-lasting, that it's not some lace that's going to tear. I'm always on the go and traveling, and I don't have time to think about whether the wire is going to pop out of the center, and the strap is going to fall off. So it was a no-brainer to do a collaboration with Addition Elle. They already have the support, they already have the durability and the comfort, I wanted to add something that was uber, super-duper sexy."
When it comes to the quality she finds most sexy in a person, Ashley says: "It's such a cliche, but confidence." It's the quality she looked for when casting models for her recent show at New York Fashion Week, and it's the trait she most admires her mother for. Growing up, Ashley says, her mother taught her to love her body by example. "What she never did was call herself fat. And she never said that she needed to go on a diet, and she never said that she was ugly. It was so impressionable on me as a kid," Ashley recalls. "I didn't realize it then, because of course I had the same insecurity that any girl in middle or high school has, am I pretty enough or good enough. But when I grew up I realized oh my gosh, my mom is the most confident person I know, why? She still carries herself with such grace and strength and confidence. Every confident piece of my body that I have, I learned from her."
Ashley was famously the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated—though, as she said in her TED Talk, she prefers the term "my size"—and she thinks that the fashion industry has made some progress toward inclusivity. She credits designers like Christian Siriano for incorporating curvy models in runway shows "easily and effortlessly." I think now more than ever, we're going to see designers not just talking about [body acceptance], but putting it into action," she says.
Along with Ashley's innate confidence comes a low-maintenance beauty routine—though she does have one product addiction. "Well, I've turned into a lipstick girl," she says. "I don't do my hair and makeup, but I throw on sunglasses and a lipstick and I feel put-together. I love Amaretto Swirl from Laura Mercier."
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