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Holt: Tiegs disguises body-shaming as concern

Ashley Graham is a bombshell. A drop-dead-gorgeous bombshell. Her beautiful features, killer curves and sexy confidence make her a perfect Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover girl.She also happens to be the first plus-size model the magazin...

Plus-size model Ashley Graham's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover. Special to The Forum
Plus-size model Ashley Graham's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover. Special to The Forum

Ashley Graham is a bombshell. A drop-dead-gorgeous bombshell. Her beautiful features, killer curves and sexy confidence make her a perfect Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover girl.

She also happens to be the first plus-size model the magazine's put on its cover, a choice that apparently didn't sit well with former supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, who appeared on the cover three times in the past.

I first heard about Graham when she appeared in a Swimsuits for All ad in last year's Swimsuit Edition, and I've been following her on Instagram since. Her feed feels like any other successful model's, but she sprinkles body positivity throughout her promotional posts, using hashtags like #beautybeyondsize.

When she shared her smokin'-hot cover, she captioned it with the words "This cover is for every woman who felt like she wasn't beautiful enough because of her size. You can do and achieve anything you put your mind to."

Well, I'll never look like Ashley Graham, no matter how hard I try, but it is encouraging to see a voluptuous size-16 woman romping around in the sand in a string bikini like any other SI model.

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However, she's not the magazine's only cover model. This year there are three! The other two are MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, who's dealt with her own share of body-shaming, and model Hailey Clauson, a model who fits SI's typical body type - thin, with boobs.

In an article posted on the magazine's website, Assistant Managing Editor MJ Day said the trio of covers celebrate "the new SI Swimsuit."

"All three women are beautiful, sexy and strong," she says. "Beauty is not cookie cutter. Beauty is not 'one size fits all.' Beauty is all around us, and that became especially obvious to me while shooting and editing this year's issue."

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees. Tiegs threw the body-pos Twitterverse into a rage when she said: "I don't like that we're talking about full-figured women because it's glamorizing them because your waist should be smaller than 35 (inches). That's what Dr. Oz said, and I'm sticking to it." She added: "No, I don't think it's healthy. Her face is beautiful. Beautiful. But I don't think it's healthy in the long run."

Huh.

1) What's wrong with glamorizing full-figured women? They can be beautiful, too.

2) Daytime talk-show host Dr. Oz isn't exactly the most reliable source of information.

3) 35 inches is recognized as the recommended waist-size guideline for women, but unlike Tiegs, I don't judge a woman's (or a man's!) health OR beauty solely by waist size. (See my previous column: "Let's stop hating our bellies." )

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She later tweeted, "My sincere apologies to everyone I have hurt. I truly just want everyone to be happy & healthy," but the damage had been done. This is what I call fat-shaming disguised as "concern." People do it all the time, but somehow it seems worse coming from a 68-year-old retired model who refuses to see beyond the standard that supported her career.

Graham, class act that she is, isn't having any of it. She hasn't responded to the comments and told People magazine "no comment" when they asked her about it. Instead, she's keeping her focus on her own career, loving her plus-size body and keeping it healthy by HER standards.

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