Ashley Graham is looking hotter than ever!
The 29-year-old model graces the cover of Elle Canada's October issue and opens up about her learning disability, why she chose to hold off on sex with her husband until after marriage and her determination to help women gain control of their body image.
"I believe that we are all here for a purpose and that one of my biggest ones is to help people understand that they're beautiful," says Graham. "I get emails every day from women who say 'I would have never gotten into a bikini without you' and from husbands who say 'I bought my wife your lingerie, and she's never felt sexier....'"
"I think women think I'm inspirational because I'm unapologetic," she continues. "I have cellulite. I have back fat. I've got a thick stomach. But I work my body like I [do] because I don't know any other body. I don't know how to feel thin. I just know how to feel like Ashley."
The magazine features Graham in various sexy outfits, including a navy blue see-through dress, a black one-piece bathing suit and a black-and-white sheer ensemble with a nude trench coat.
Graham has been married to her husband, Justin Ervin, for six years. He lives in Los Angeles and works as a cinematographer, while the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model still resides in NYC, but she says the secret to their marriage is the respect they have for each other.
"I know I'm with a man who loves and respects me," explains Graham, who also reveals she didn't have sex with her husband until after they married. "When I was growing up, my parents always told me, 'Don't have sex until you're married,' so I was like, 'Okay, I'm going to go out and have a ton of sex.' But then an ex-boyfriend made me realize that I need to respect my body and I need to have a man respect my body."
"It's not for everybody, but, in order for that to happen for me, I needed to not have sex [again] until I was married," she adds. "My husband and I waited; call me crazy, but it worked. Our sex is amazing! He respected me more because I wasn't willing to just give it up. I tell my friends to wait three months. Just see if he can wait. If he can, he's a good guy. And, again, it's not for everybody, but for me it was great. It's something I'm actually really proud of."
Graham also recalls being bullied in school because of her dyslexia. "My mom always told me that I was smart even though I was called dumb in school because I have dyslexia," she says. "I was also a big girl who played sports and ate well, and she would tell me 'You're fit and healthy.' I was super-insecure at the time, but it helped to hear her words."
"Being told in the fourth grade that you're dyslexic and you're not going to be able to read properly takes a toll on you, and it really makes you believe you're dumb," she shares. "I would always hear people say, 'Oh, thank God she's pretty.' I'll say it as a joke now because I haven't let dyslexia take over who I am."
Graham debuted a sexy new hairstyle last week at the MTV Video Music Awards and told ET that the new 'do is a bit of a game-changer.
"I feel high-end and luxurious!" she said. "Also, I felt like my sexy was connected to my hair, and I cut it off and was like, 'Ahhh, damn, I look good!'"