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Ashley Graham Was Diagnosed with Dyslexia in Childhood — inside the Model's Struggles

Edduin Carvajal
Nov 18, 2020
09:30 A.M.

Model and TV presenter Ashley Graham, who has been an advocate for body positivity, once shared some details of her struggles growing up with dyslexia and ADD (attention deficit disorder).


Born in October 1987, Ashley Graham has been involved in the modeling industry since she was 12 years old when she was discovered at a shopping mall in Nebraska.

For years, she appeared in catalogs and ads, but when she was 18 years old, she moved to New York City to follow her dreams of becoming a professional model.

Ashley Graham on February 11, 2019 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

Ashley Graham on February 11, 2019 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images


Initially, Graham was represented by Wilhelmina Models and Ford Models, but nowadays, IMG manages her career. So far, she has appeared on the covers of Glamour, Elle, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar.

Apart from that, Graham made history in 2016 after becoming the first curvy model to appear on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover.


If that wasn’t good enough, she has walked the New York Fashion Week runways several times for different designers, including Michael Kors.


Ashley Graham’s career has been nothing short of impressive. Unfortunately, she dealt with many difficulties growing up, and she has been very open about them throughout her life.

Her father was physically present but emotionally absent.



Back in 2017, she revealed that she was diagnosed with “bad dyslexia and ADD,” something that her parents didn’t know how to handle.

Graham also said that even nowadays, when she has to read something from a teleprompter, she remembers “that feeling.” Fortunately, she just “shakes it off” and goes back to her “affirmations.”

Dealing with dyslexia and ADD was probably quite challenging for Graham, but she also had to cope with school bullies who would pick on her and call her cruel names for her body. About it, she said:

“They would say, 'You're not really a model, you're a fat model.' It was humiliating. I think I just put my head down and internalized it."



Her father wasn’t that helpful when it came to making her feel good about herself, either. Ashley Graham pointed out that her dad was a “dark presence” who thought she was “stupid” because of her low reading level and poor math performance.

Apart from that, the model pointed out that her father was physically present but emotionally absent. She also recalled that, when an agent at Ford Models asked her to “tighten up,” Graham’s dad told her that maybe she should lose weight.


To make matters worse, Graham revealed in her memoir “A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like” that she was molested by the 18-year-old son of her parents’ friends when she was only ten years old.

At the time, she was so afraid that she ran away from the room. Unfortunately, that negative experience left her with “so many lingering questions.”



As per her love life, the model is currently married to Justin Ervin, a director, producer, and writer. Ashley Graham’s husband runs his own company, Element Films, and has shot videos and campaigns for Netflix, Vogue, CNN, and more.

The couple met at her church in NYC in 2009, where he was volunteering. After their first encounter, Graham just wanted to keep talking to him, and they did everything from rollerblading and biking to singing karaoke and taking an improv class together.

In August 2019, Ervin and Graham announced that they were expecting their first child, a boy. In January 2020, Ashley Graham’s baby, Isaac, was born at home.

About her natural childbirth, she pointed out that most mothers say that “it hurts,” but they say it in such a calm way that she never thought it would hurt “that bad.” At the moment, she is trying her best to juggle motherhood and her career. Way to go, queen!

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