Ashley Graham received the first Women’s Empowerment Award at the United Nations Women for Peace Association (UNWFPA) luncheon, sponsored in part by Sam Edelman in New York City today.
Clad in a curve-hugging asymmetrical one-sleeved LBD, the supermodel gave a powerful speech, in which she mentioned Serena Williams and shared startling statistics that she learned while researching for her Ted Talk.
Taking the stage in pointy black T-strap pumps, Graham opened up about promoting body positivity in the industry.
“When I started the #BeautyBeyondSize hashtag, I began thinking of myself as a body activist,” she shared.
“I focused on influencing the fashion industry to become more inclusive. But as I traveled along this journey, I realized that the conversation wasn’t just about body diversity and the fashion industry — it was about every single woman.”
“Through my experiences and the experiences of those that I met along my journey, I discovered that there is a strong connection between our self-confidence, our self-worth and the inequality that all women face,” the cover girl continued.
The Revlon ambassador then revealed that she was sad to learn through her research that one in two girls will hold themselves back from doing things they love because of their appearance.
“That’s a young girl who could become the next Serena Williams and didn’t try out for tennis or another young girl who didn’t go to student council but could be walking in the halls of the UN.”
The “American’s Next Top Model” judge, who stopped by “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” in January to talk about empowering women in her new role on the Tyra Banks–led show, closed her speech by encouraging those in the audience to lift each other up.
“Together we can teach women to grow up and to be confident in their own skin, to not focus on their weight, their size, their imperfections, but to focus on making their goals and their dreams a reality. Today I encourage all of you to remind a girl, another young woman, and, honestly, the most important thing, yourself, that you are bold, you are brilliant and you are beautiful.”