Ashley Graham On How She Got Over 'Devastating' New Stomach Stretch Marks

"I can’t believe this happened," Graham remembered saying when she developed stretch marks during pregnancy.

Ashley Graham is able to embrace her stretch marks and “new mom bod” now, but during pregnancy, her changing body took some getting used to.

Graham welcomed her first child, Isaac, with her husband Justin Ervin in January, and spoke about her path from devastation to acceptance regarding her pregnant body in an interview with Kristen Bell for Elle’s August issue. Ervin shot the gorgeous photos accompanying the interview.

“When I got pregnant, I had to reimagine my relationship with my body with this creature inside me taking over. I was gaining weight so rapidly,” she told Bell. “Then, to get stretch marks on my stomach, that to me was like, ‘Oh my gosh. I can’t believe this happened.’

“At first it felt devastating,” Graham said, “and then when I met Isaac, I said, ‘No, this is exactly what every woman has talked about for ages. This is not just a battle wound. This is something that has changed my life forever, and I’m going to celebrate my new body.’”

Graham recently revealed her stretch marks in a powerful campaign for her Swimsuits For All swimwear line. She told People magazine that she asked editors not to remove her stretch marks from the images.

“There’s always a question of, ‘What do you want us to retouch, and what do you want us to take out?’ And I said, ‘Nothing,’” the Sports Illustrated model said.

Friends and fans were quick to thank Graham for her openness and honesty in sharing the photos, saying she set a powerful example for people everywhere.

Graham has always been open and honest with fans about the highs and lows of body acceptance ― whether she’s struggling with it at the moment or not.

In an episode of her digital series, “Fearless With Ashley Graham,” she spoke about posting a nude photo of herself just after announcing her pregnancy and feeling “terrible.”

“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,” Graham said, getting a bit emotional. “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?’”

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