Voluptuous, confident curve model Ashley Graham has recently made a splash in the media for being the first plus-size model in an ad campaign in Sports Illustrated. She also models extensively for Addition Elle, and recently visited Toronto to launch her new lingerie collection for the brand. The collection will be available at Addition Elle stores in March, with cup sizes up to H. Scroll down for our interview with the inspiring body-confidence advocate. Tell me about this collection. What was the inspiration for it? A little Fifty Shades of Grey. A lot of bondage. We wanted colour, because we know that this girl is going to be showing off the straps, because it's for spring. We wanted to throw in a bodysuit too. It's very sexy. How are you involved in creating the collection? I'm very involved. There is a great design team at Addition Elle. And then I come in and say, "Hey guys. I like this colour. I like this lace. These designs." And they say, "Okay, great." They go and create it. Then I come back and say, "Yes, no, maybe so to everything." It's really hands on. I'm not just smacking my name on something. And because I am the customer and I have the breasts and I have the wants and desires of the über sexy, I want to be able to wear it. And I do every day.
Mesh underwire bodysuit, $80What do you look for in terms of comfort in a bra or underwear for someone that is fuller figured? It has to be supportive. There's 25 components to a bra. Who knew? When you're dealing with a very large cup, you have to think about the support and you have to think about that woman carrying that weight all day on her shoulders. If it's a very thin mesh, it's not going to work. Everything's doubled up and the lace is very thick. The fit is not something we take lightly. What are the features of an undergarment that make you feel the sexiest? If my boobs are under my chin, I definitely feel sexy. So you like a push-up? YES!!! But I also like a balconette. I love it when the breasts are separated and there's nice cleavage. As long as I'm comfortable, and it's a pretty colour or a really beautiful lace, then that's all that matters to me.
Corded lace non-pad bra, $60, and lace-front panel boyshort, $25In terms of clothing, what do you wear to feel sexy? I clearly love body-conscious styles. I love a good cut-out. I love V-necks. [She was wearing a colourful, skin-tight Milly sheath dress with side cut-outs at our interview.] But I do have days where I wear Helmut Lang or Eileen Fisher and it's super baggy and I don't show off my body—and I still feel super sexy. Because I think that sexy is the confidence that you carry. You can wear a burlap sack and still be sexy as long as you're walking in a room with confidence. You're part of the #CurvesinBikinis campaign for Swimsuitsforall. Can you tell me about it? They have swimsuits that range from size 8 to 34. You can buy them anywhere in the world. Curves in Bikinis was the very first plus-size, curvy ad to ever be in Sports Illustrated. That's why it was such a big deal. Doesn't it seem crazy? But it was such a necessary thing, because it got great publicity and press. People were applauding them left and right, saying thank you for putting thicker curves in Sports Illustrated. Women can see it and say, "That's me." That campaign got so much press. Any time something is huge in the media, there's negative push-back. Did you get any negative feedback? Look, you always hear, "You think you're the epitome of health? You're telling these girls they can be fat and it's okay." Honestly, I'm not. I'm all about being healthy. You can be healthy at every size. I workout two to three days I week. I try to juice. I love my hamburger and fries, too. But I really believe that if you get your body moving, you can be healthy at any size. How do you personally deal with comments targeted at you? I try not to read the comments. Facebook's the worst. I don't get it. But I have such a thick skin now, being in this industry for 15 years. Being told I was too fat, too pretty, too ugly, too skinny. I've been in, I've been out, I've been all around, honey. At this point, you could tell me I'm a fat pig and it would go in one ear and out the other, because I know I'm fine and sexy. Do you have an opinion on Robyn Lawley, the first plus-size model to appear in an editorial in Sports Illustrated? She's only a size 8. She looks beautiful. She looks absolutely stunning. The thing is, plus size starts at a size 8, and it goes up to a size 16-18. Technically, I'm on the larger side of the plus-size scale. She's right in the middle. She's also 6'2. But she looks beautiful. But she doesn't look plus. It doesn't matter that she doesn't look plus. We all hate the word plus. We're thick, we're curvy, we're sexy. Some of us have more stomach. Some of us have more thigh and more butt. Because that's what every woman is. She's different. Just because we're called plus size, doesn't mean that we are plus size. We're a wide range of every type of woman. Really, we're the everyday woman. That's what you should be calling us. Images courtesy of Addition Elle Read more: Take a cue from Beyoncé and try the "no-makeup" look Four ways to wear your favourite moto jacket