by MIKE CHAIKEN
The real world of modeling and fashion is filled with harrowing tales.
And it wouldn’t be unheard of for a model to write a cautionary tale about the seedy goings-on in a world of fashion designers, photographers, and hangers-on, convincing aspiring models to give up all hope if they should enter the kingdom of fashion.
However, supermodel Ashley Graham hasn’t written that book.
In the biography “A New Model,” which Graham wrote (with help from Rebecca Paley), it’s clear Graham likes her job. Yes, there have been missteps along the way – such as her own propensity to party too hard as young teen in New York City, to the point that she missed a flight for a modeling gig and nearly lost her job. There have been creepy moments such as middle aged man giving the then-underage Graham his phone number on an air flight back to New York. And there are the dark personal moments such as an abusive ex-boyfriend.
But although Graham acknowledges the darker moments, it is also a celebration of her accomplishments as a model who doesn’t fit the usual size 0 mold. And it also offers convincing arguments for more body diversity in the world of fashion—even as Graham does her part with her own line of lingerie to address an undeserved consumer sector.
There are some many opportunities where Graham could have turned ham-fisted, such as her discussion about her Christianity. Even when she advocates body diversity, her activism could have turned into dogmatic. But she steers clear. She presents the facts and lets them speak for themselves. She leaves the preaching to others.
Graham is clearly a product of the 21st century. The book, beneath it all, is about building the “Ashley Graham” brand. We learn about her clothing lines. We learn about her magazine covers, such as Vogue and Sports Illustrated. We learn about how her efforts are helping to transform the fashion industry.
But the overall tone of the narrative makes Graham likeable. There’s not a sense we’re reading about an overbearing narcissist. Graham comes off as your favorite girlfriend, much like she was able to accomplish in the last season of “America’s Next Top Model.”
“A New Model” is a breezy book. It keeps your attention.
And for budding models, Graham offers a lot of perspective about what to expect and not to expect if you are in pursuit. She also, even as she celebrates her own success and accomplishments, makes it clear that it’s hard work and not to expect the same results.
For fans of the fashion industry, “A New Model” is a worthy addition to the stacks of books on your nightstand.