Ashley Graham Reveals That She Was Sexually Harassed on Set at Age 17

The model opened up about the experience for the first time in an interview with 'Glamour.'
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Ashley Graham for Glamour. Photo: Nathaniel Goldberg/Glamour

Ashley Graham for Glamour. Photo: Nathaniel Goldberg/Glamour

Ashley Graham appears on Glamour's July 2017 "Sex Issue," wearing swimwear and posing in a tropical locale for a Nathaniel Goldberg-lensed shoot. The cover itself feels happy and fresh, with Graham beaming; one of the alternative photos from the shoot (above) shows a closeup of Graham, not wearing much makeup, allowing her freckles to show through. The shoot itself is very good, though not exactly a far cry from Graham's usual editorial bread and butter. 

But the accompanying cover story is especially revealing and personal, perhaps in part because the model was interviewed by her friend Lauren Chan, a former fellow plus-size model. In the piece, Graham touches on the usual Ashley Graham talking points — body positivity, the world of plus-size modeling, dressing sexy when you have curves — but she also opens up about having been sexually harassed as a teen on set, a story she had never told up until now.

"There was an incident on set of a campaign job when I was 17 years old — I haven't told this story — and there was a photo assistant who was into me. He was like, 'Hey, come here,' and he led me into a closet. And I was like, 'What?' I thought he was going to show me something," she says. "And he pulled me in, and he pulled his penis out. And he was like, 'Grab it.' And I was like, 'No! That's disgusting.' I freaked out. And thank God I was closer to the door, and I just bolted out."

Worse, Graham never felt able to report the incident — and the photo assistant in question is still working in the industry. "Sure enough, I've seen him at jobs since. I even knew a girl he dated. I didn't tell her because there was a voice in me that said, ‘Maybe he’s changed.' It was my young mentality," says Graham. 

Despite the young age at which she experienced this harassment, Graham hasn't let it deter her. In fact, she's turned it into motivation to maintain autonomy over her work. "I told myself, ever since that incident, that I wasn't going to allow someone at work to manipulate what I wanted to do on set," she tells Chan. "So any image that you see out there is one that I wanted to take."

The July issue of Glamour will be on newsstands June 13, and you can read Graham's full interview on glamour.com.

Homepage photo: Nathaniel Goldberg/Glamour

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