Ashley Graham isn't your typical supermodel. At a size 14, Graham has helped reign in the fashion industry's historically unrealistic portrayal of beauty. Her picture on the cover of Vogue, Glamour and other leading magazines has helped women worldwide embrace their own bodies.
Which is why you may be surprised to hear that at age 18, a few years before her modeling career took off, she nearly quit.
At the 2017 Glamour's Women of the Year Summit, Graham recalled the moment she nearly gave up on her career goals.
"I called my mom, I was 18 years old, and said 'Mom, I'm coming home,'" Graham said. "I said 'I'm not doing this modeling thing anymore, I can't take it anymore.'"
Agents and other models were telling her that she needed to lose weight and that she would never succeed as a model. The constant badgering was affecting her. She was set on leaving New York City and returning to her hometown in Nebraska.
But her mom told her that she should not come home, saying, "Your attitudes and your actions have to change."
Then, Graham's mother taught her the daily mental exercise that helped her turn her career around. It's called expressing an affirmation, or making a positive statement about yourself.
From that day on, Graham would spend a few minutes in front of the mirror and repeat the statement, "I love you. You are bold. You are brilliant. You are beautiful."
After a few weeks, the exercise began to work.
"I stopped comparing myself to the women around me and competing with them," she said. "I started focusing what I was doing, how I was impacting my own career."
"And boom! I started excelling in my career," she said. "I knew whatever I wanted, I could have."
Without that confidence and determination, Graham said, she wouldn't have succeeded.
The model encourages every young person to have their own affirmation. Repeating the positive statement to yourself every morning, she says, can help you boost your confidence and in turn, your productivity.
"Whatever you're stopping yourself from doing, whatever you're holding yourself back from, you have to start talking to that thing," Graham said. "You have to start talking and say, 'I am worthy, I am good enough.'"
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