Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Rookie Ashley Graham didn’t always have it easy when it came to love.
The 29-year-old plus-size model and body activist got candid about dating in her upcoming book, “A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty and Power Really Look Like,” which is set to be released on May 9th.
The June issue of Glamour Magazine published an exclusive essay from her memoir where Graham described her romantic woes as an up-and-coming model.
“Four months into our knowing each other, my now husband, Justin (Ervin), said, ‘I really like you, and I really want to be your boyfriend. Will you be my girlfriend?’ I said yes,” explained Graham. “But the truth is, I wasn’t sure. One reason: Our first kiss was terrible (To this day Justin says I’m the worst kisser he ever met and that he had to teach me how to kiss).”
As for the other reason, Graham revealed when she started dating at age 16, her first boyfriend of three months broke up with her because she wouldn’t have sex with him said she was going to be as fat as his mom. This resulted in Graham dating anyone who found her attractive for a much-needed self-esteem boost.
“I lost my virginity to a guy I barely knew because he gave me compliments like, ‘Ashley, you look really pretty today,’ or ‘I like when you wear your hair like that,’” she said. “When I left Nebraska to start my modeling career in New York City, my dates followed a similar pattern: A guy took me out, then we had sex, then I wouldn’t hear from him again.”
Graham decided to join a church where she encountered someone who asked her out, but only proved to be another major disappointment. So when it came to dating Justin, the couple chose to abstain so they could focus on their budding romance instead.
“My romance with Justin was innocent and sweet,” explained Graham. “He cooked for me. We went rollerblading and biking; we did karaoke, went to the movies, took an improv class together. Because we weren’t sleeping together — for Justin, abstinence was a firm commitment to his faith — we never tempted ourselves by going over to each other’s apartments late at night. But we’d go to late movies or take walks through the city together.”
Despite the many ups and downs Graham faced with her beau, including her grandmother’s initial disapproval of the biracial relationship, the couple endured — and the wait proved to be worth it all.
“When I was playing games, he called me out on it,” said Graham. “When we began dating, he did it with intention, always asking the difficult questions: ‘What do you bring to this relationship?’ and ‘What role do you see yourself in beyond girlfriend or wife?’ I wasn’t always sure how to answer.”
“I didn’t like my mom and dad’s marriage, but I couldn’t put my finger on why,” she added. “But thanks to Justin’s constant communication, I envisioned a marriage that was more than just two people loving each other. And now we have that marriage: a partnership dedicated to building something bigger than ourselves.”
The June issue of Glamour hits newsstands on May 9.