Ashley Graham has been a champion of body positivity in fashion for years. Along with landing a Sports Illustrated cover and walking countless runways, she’s used an ongoing design partnership with Swimsuits for All to empower women to feel confident in their swimwear. Now, she’s continuing to do so during her pregnancy.
Debuting her latest swim collection, Graham models bikinis and one-piece suits while pregnant with her first child in the new Swimsuits for All campaign. And it may just be her most stunning shoot for the brand yet.
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“Shooting this Swimsuits for All campaign while pregnant was truly empowering,” Graham told BAZAAR.com. “I’ve been honest and have shared my feelings about my body changing, and this shoot for my anniversary collection reignited my confidence and reaffirmed that our bellies are beautiful. We should be celebrating our bodies at all stages throughout our lives.”
Despite the fact that Graham’s mission has always been to make all women feel confident in their bodies, not even she was immune to struggling with all the changes during pregnancy. “Throughout my pregnancy, my body has changed in some really new and interesting ways, and it wasn’t always easy to embrace them at first. I gained 50 lbs, but I feel great, healthy and happy, and that’s what matters most,” the model admits.
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As for what helped her get through some of those insecurities throughout her pregnancy? She credits “the moments when I can rub my belly and feel the baby kick, which reminds me how blessed I am to be able to grow my family with Justin [Graham’s husband].”
Unfortunately as many mothers know, the pressure surrounding your baby bump and pregnancy weight gain doesn’t end after giving birth—it only amplifies. Many women feel they have to quickly bounce back and lose all their pregnancy weight immediately, but Graham isn’t here for any of that.
“It’s unfortunate that this ‘bounce back’ culture exists for new moms,” Graham says. “We just grew a life inside of our bodies for nine months, and then in addition to raising a newborn, there’s pressure to lose all of the baby weight so quickly.”
The model, whose baby boy is due this January, isn’t getting caught up in any of society’s pressures on her postpartum body.
“Everyone’s postpartum journey is different. My priority will be to make sure that our baby is happy and healthy, and when and if I do decide to lose the baby weight, it’ll be on my own terms.”
Ashley Graham’s latest Swimsuits for All collection is available to shop online now at swimsuitsforall.com.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar US.