While phrases like “body-positivity” are now a part of our modern lexicon, that hasn’t always been the case—especially when it comes to the modeling industry. Even supermodel Naomi Campbell defended Ashley Graham from body-shamers back in 2016, when the leading body-positive model landed the cover of Sports Illustrated. Years later, we’re learning just how Naomi stood up for her.
In a new YouTube series “No Filter With Naomi,” new mom Ashley, 32, was invited to speak with Naomi, 49, on her channel about all things modeling and more. At one point during their chat, the models segued to Ashley’s entry into the industry—namely, her watershed cover for Sports Illustrated.
“The second year that I tried out, I got it and I was a rookie. It was a fantastic photoshoot, great images, and boom! I got the cover,” she told Naomi. It was the first time a Size 16 model was selected for the magazine’s front cover, marking a historic moment both for Ashley and women everywhere. But not everyone was happy about it.
According to Ashley, one model in particular really came out of the woodwork to critique her cover. (*Ahem* it’s likely Cheryl Tiegs, who told E! News in 2016 that, “I don’t like that we’re talking about full-figured women because it’s glamorizing them because your waist should be smaller than 35 [inches]. “[Ashley’s] face is beautiful. Beautiful. But I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run.”)
“There was another model who was so upset that I had gotten the cover,” Ashley explained. “She said I was very large and that women my size should not be on the cover.”
Naomi asked, “Who said that?,” to which Ashley offered, “You can go look it up.” Always a good sport, it seems Ashley didn’t want to disclose the model’s identity. Instead, Naomi made sure that Ashley knew she had her back then—and now.
“You told me, ‘I just want to let you know that I was talking about you and I defended you.’ First of all, I’m meeting Naomi Campbell for the first time and she just defended me. Heart is racing! Thank you,” Ashley said, of Naomi.
“Well, I’ll defend you again right now because I don’t think that person had the right to say that,” Naomi replied. “It’s your time now.” Got it, haters? Don’t mess—Naomi will come for your neck.