In an exclusive interview with Motherly, the model and global ambassador for intimate apparel brand, Knix, opens up about motherhood and what she DOESN'T want to hear about having twins.
Initiating and maintaining friendships is, arguably, one of the hardest parts of motherhood. But when you're in the thick of motherhood, particularly those early weeks and years, you need your friends more than ever. You need mom friends. Now, that's not to say that our child-free friends aren't just as important and valuable to us and our families. But a mom friend—she gets it, you know?
Ashley Graham seems like she's that kind of friend. In an exclusive interview with Motherly, she opens up about motherhood, preparing for twins, her changing beauty standards, and the apparel company, Knix.
Her Instagram account is a palatable mix of breathtaking model imagery and regular, relatable moments. She's one of the most beautiful women in the world, without question. She's also a mom, in the middle of her second pregnancy with twins, and the kind of person who asks her Instagram followers for "vagina remedies" because if you've been heavily pregnant, you know there's a point in your third trimester where it feels like you're riding an elevator that's going up—but your pelvis is stuck at the ground level.
But I digress. In addition to all of that, Ashley Graham is also the global ambassador for Knix, a line of stylish intimates that are also comfortable. This month, Knix announced the launch of Life After Birth: Portraits of Love and the Beauty of Parenthood, a coffee table book created in partnership with Carriage House Birth. The book features imagery and personal stories of the beauty surrounding every stage of parenthood and the postpartum experience. It tackles everything from postpartum depression to the pressure birthing people feel to "bounce back" to the body they had prior to pregnancy. Graham wrote the forward for the book.
When the time came for me to interview her about the book, motherhood, and, well, a little bit of everything else, instead of sitting in my office, I was curled on top of my bed, legs crossed, with my laptop open and my notepad out. It's almost like I knew I'd be having the same type of conversation with Ashley Graham that I have with my closest friends: funny, poignant, and relaxed—with a very necessary discussion about Knix bras. (I am a woman with a body I don't see represented often enough, so it's wonderful to see my size and my shape represented in the Knix clothing.)
The following interview has been edited for clarity.
Why was it important for you to participate in the creation of Life After Birth?
AG: Well, I think that we need to normalize the "afterward"—the fourth trimester. I think there are a lot of beautiful images of pregnant women that exist, and there's a lot of information out there about being pregnant and what your body is doing. But there's just not a lot of imagery and experiences and written stories about what happens literally right after birth. And it's not always pretty, it's not always glamorous. I call it "beautiful chaos." And I feel like a lot of first-time moms, they have no idea what they're getting into—and that's good, in a way. But it would also be kind of nice to know a little bit more, like what happens? You know, that first poop you take, gosh. That's really rough!
What stands out to you the most about your postpartum experience with your first son?
AG: I thought I was going to need a lot more help. I thought that I needed a lot more tools. I bought everything—every gadget. But Isaac just needed me and a diaper. I'm all he needed. Just being his mom was all he needed, and that felt so good to me. The other thing was the crying. I cried so much because when you go through that [pregnancy and birth], it's just such a wild chemical imbalance
I know I spent a lot of time during my second pregnancy trying to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for my second postpartum experience. How are you taking care of yourself ahead of the twins' arrival?
AG: My mom is such a blessing. She's raised three girls—I'm the oldest—and she's just like, "You got this. You got it. This is just what people do." And she's been such an amazing encouragement and breath of fresh air compared to all the people surrounding me going, 'It's going to be crazy, you're never going to sleep. You're going to be so tired." And it's like, those are the things you don't need to hear.
As for me and my body, I'm taking it easy. I'm not going to put any pressure on myself by establishing weight goals or anything like that. I'm not going to do that to myself or my mental health.
After having my first baby, I remember feeling a radical shift in how I felt about myself and how I saw myself. I felt almost...more powerful? Confident? I wasn't expecting that at all! I struggle with body image like we all do, but I'm interested in how your perception of beauty shifted through motherhood.AG: You're so spot on with how I felt, too. I often talk about how I just feel more confident. Like, if I can do this, I can do anything.
My body changed so much, and it never really went "back." I don't know if it ever does go back. There's just so much more to my life than what my body looks like in a bikini or how my body fits into a pair of jeans. Yes, those things feel good, but I don't care about that. My husband doesn't care about that. That's only a topic of interest because of my job.
There's been a radical shift in that I place a lot less emphasis on how I look. Now it's about how I feel.
About Knix—I'm a size 16 and I definitely struggle with finding comfortable clothes that are also cute. I especially struggled when I was pregnant and postpartum because they DO NOT make cute clothes for pregnant women with regular-sized bodies. Tell me everything I need to know about the new Knix line and why you love it.
AG: I've been a fan of Knix before I had a contract with them or feel like it's been. I've been wearing them for quite some time. They're breathable, they're affordable, and they're durable. Those are just a few reasons why I love them—also the sizing is really great. They're great clothes for going to the gym, they're great for an everyday look, and their pajamas are so cozy. There's also technology in the waistband that allows the clothes to mold to your body, which is so interesting!