The first time I heard the saying, “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips,” was on an episode of “Friends” when a character food-shamed another character for eating a slice of pizza. The line, which was meant to be a joke, always left a bad taste in my mouth (no pun intended), especially when I would see it reposted on Pinterest or on social media. This is why I’m so thankful that Ashley Graham, supermodel and self-love activist, transformed the phrase from a food-shaming saying to a body-positive cry.
On Tuesday, the 30-year-old model posted an Instagram of her eating a head-sized cinnamon roll. The picture featured Graham lifting the pastry up to her mouth as she closed her eyes and took a huge bite. Though Graham looked more fab than we ever would mid-cinnamon-roll-bite, the real star of the Instagram was her caption: “Once on the lips, gonna look good on these hips 💁🏻♀️”
Instead of shaming herself for eating a cinnamon roll (because we all need to eat), Graham showed her followers that there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every now and then, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with gaining weight. Graham’s clever wordplay turned what was once a food-shaming saying into something body-positive that will ring in our minds every time we experience food guilt.
Just when we thought that we couldn’t love Graham more, she serves up an awesome Instagram caption, proving that cinnamon rolls are totally worth the bigger hips.
The first time Hannah Zeile met Chrissy Metz, the adult version of her character Kate on NBC’s runaway hit “This Is Us,” wasn’t on set, but seven years ago when Zeile was a 13-year-old wide-eyed aspiring actress, and Metz was a commercial agent still looking for her big break.
The two saw each other in passing, but it wasn’t until years later when they reunited in the hair and makeup chairs of “This Is Us” that they were formally introduced and realized that their lives share more than their same character. “We were both in the hair and makeup trailer, and she just turned to me and was like, ‘Oh my God! I don’t know if you remember, but I was a commercial agent at the agency that you’re with,’” Zeile says. “I was like, ‘Oh my God! I totally remember seeing you around the office.’ She was like, ‘I used to be in meetings discussing stuff about you.’”
However, Zeile’s relationship with “This Is Us,” where she plays the teenage version of Kate Pearson, an aspiring singer struggling with her weight and relationship with her mom, goes beyond her fortuitous connection with Metz. The show—which airs its second season finale on Tuesday, March 13—played a significant role in helping Zeile to overcome deep-rooted insecurities and the pressure to look “model-thin” in her early career.
“I’ve definitely gained a lot more confidence through this show,” Zeile says. “Playing a role that does deal with body insecurities and seeing that there are so many other people who relate to it, it makes everything feel so much more powerful.”
Photo: Bobby Quillard
Raised in Thousand Oaks, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, Zeile was groomed to become a big-shot athlete. Her dad, Todd Zeile, was a Major League Baseball player, while her mom, Julianne McNamara, was an Olympic gymnast. “Growing up, I always did sports,” Zeile says. “But I never stuck to one thing. I was always bouncing around. Nothing really kept my focus.”
Zeile’s acting calling came when she was 12 years old when she binge-watched cast auditions for her favorite show, Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana.” “That’s when it became a reality to me,” Zeile says. “Seeing them in their regular clothes doing the scenes that I watched, it became an obsession of mine, like ‘I can do this. Anyone can do this.’”
Playing a role that does deal with body insecurities, everything feels so much more powerful.
After taking acting classes for a year, Zeile began auditioning, booking her first-ever role as the daughter of Charlie Sheen’s best friend in FOX’s “Anger Management.” At 14, still unsure if a lifelong acting career was for her, Zeile took a break to live a more traditional high-school experience. However, when it came time to apply for college, Zeile knew that she wanted to give acting another try. Her dad wasn’t so convinced.
“I just remember telling him, ‘Give me one year. Give me a gap year and let me audition,’” Zeile says. “‘I have this really strong feeling inside I can’t explain, but I feel like I’m going to book something. Give me time.’”
Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC
Zeile’s intuition was right. A few months later, she landed an audition for a then-unknown drama titled “This Is Us,” while working at Chipotle. After the initial audition, which was her first since she began acting again, Zeile was ringing up burrito bowls when she felt her phone vibrate. She ran to the bathroom to answer it. It was her manager telling her that casting for the role was down to her and another actress and that she needed to meet the show’s creator Dan Fogelman at Paramount’s studios immediately.
“I walked out to my manager and said, ‘I’m so sorry. You’re not going to have a cashier,’” Zeile says. “‘I’m just letting you know that I’m going to leave now.’ And I never came back.” On her Lyft ride home, Zeile received a call telling her that she booked the part and needed to be on set at 8:30 a.m. the next morning. “One of my most memorable days was spent with this random Lyft driver,” Zeile says.
You don’t normally see a really heavy character in a main role.
Though the audition process for “This Is Us” happened over a few days, the journey there wasn’t so simple. Growing up, Zeile was made fun of for her small size and less-developed body. “That was my own body insecurity itself,” Zeile says.
Zeile’s insecurities worsened when she grew into her late teens and became more conscious of body image, especially after being raised in today’s social media age, when photo-editing apps and idealistic bodies are commonplace. “I definitely have found myself comparing and feeling like I’m chasing what they say: goals. Body goals,” Zeile says. “It makes you forget that you have a beauty of your own.”
Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC
Beginning an acting career when her body was still developing didn’t make things easier. When Zeile returned to acting at 18, after a four-year-long break, she noticed a difference in the way she was treated and how she perceived her body. “It definitely was interesting from being 14 and auditioning and coming back at 18. I definitely looked different,” Zeile says. “There’s a stigma with acting. Like they say, ‘The camera adds 10 pounds,’ so everyone wants to be really thin, and you want to have really clear skin.”
However, Zeile sees a glimmer of hope. With characters like Kate, she believes there’s a shift toward casting actors with more realistic bodies—instead of the “model-like bodies” she used to see. “Before, a lot of actresses had model-like bodies. You see them in person, and they’re so thin,” Zeile says. “But now, there’s a lot of focus on having average, normal-looking women and men and people who you can relate to and see on the street.”
Social media makes you forget that you have a beauty of your own.
Zeile’s fight for body-positivity is why she considers it an honor to play Kate, a character who has helped her push past her own self-doubt. ”Kate lets her insecurities stop her from doing great things,” Zeile says. “She has a beautiful voice and she has talent, but she holds herself back because she’s so insecure. I’ve learned that that’s an issue, and I don’t want to let my insecurities get in the way of things so I try to push myself, which is what I would love to see Kate doing too.”
Photo: Getty Images
However, Kate’s character isn’t the only thing about “This Is Us” that has changed Zeile’s life. Since the show’s premiere in 2016, Zeile won a SAG Award—which she keeps on her mantel and has memorialized with an embarrassing amount of live-TV “Oh my Gods”—and has essentially witnessed her life flip 180 degrees. “I remember after the pilot thinking, ‘Wow. This is not what I’ve been seeing on TV lately. This is rare. This is captivating. I was already drawn in,’” Zeile says. “But for it to turn into this full, as they call it, phenomenon that it is, there was no way to expect it.”
There is a lot more to someone than the shape of their body.
But there are cons too, such as the amount of secrecy behind spoiler-prone storylines. Most notably, the long-awaited reveal behind the death of Kate’s father, Jack Pearson (played by Milo Ventimiglia), which Zeile had to keep a secret for a majority of the second season after finding out in the premiere. “We had our scripts hand-delivered to us on red paper so we couldn’t photocopy it,” Zeile says. “It was a top-secret thing.”
Photo: Bobby Quillard
As for what viewers can expect from teenage Kate in season three, Zeile teases that the death of her father will spark a shift in Kate from an angsty teen to the more withdrawn Kate now played by Metz. The season two finale, however, is kept top-secret. “I can’t say much, but it is definitely going to be more uplifting and hopeful and not so heartbreaking as the last few episodes were,” Zeile says.
Though Zeile is glad that “This Is Us” has expanded the conversation about body image and size on-screen, she hopes that characters in the future aren’t tokenized and seen for only their size. “You don’t normally see a really heavy character in a main role. It’d be interesting to see more shows incorporate characters like that and have the storyline not only have to do with their weight,” Zeile says. “I’d love to see more shows where if they do hire someone of a different body shape not to make it only for that purpose. There is a lot more to someone than the shape of their body.”
From nicknaming her love handles “side butts” to telling herself positive affirmations in the mirror every day, Ashley Graham is a huge believer in how the language that you use to describe your body shapes your self-confidence. So it should come as no surprise that the 30-year-old model has given her thigh crease a body-positive nickname, too.
Graham revealed her body-positive secret on Tuesday’s episode of “America’s Next Top Model,” where she praised a contestants “thigh brow” in an underwear photoshoot. Confused, fellow judge Tyra Banks asked Graham, “What’s a thigh brow?” That’s when Graham put her leg on the judge’s table, lifted her skirt, and showed the goddess-like crease on her upper thigh.
“Oh, it’s like a brow,” Banks told Graham while stroking her thigh.
Of course, Graham is far from the first person to use the nickname to empower her body. A quick search of #thighbrow on Instagram will turn up dozens of pictures of women showing off their thigh brows in all their glory.
And while Graham didn’t originate the term “thigh brow,” she did bring it to the attention of hundreds of thousands of fans who will hopefully now think twice about the way they see their thigh creases. Every day we learn a new body-positive lesson from Graham and this time, it’s about how we can change the language we use to describe our bodies.
Ashley Graham‘s Instagram never disappoints in the body-positivity department, and her latest picture is no exception. To prove that her recent photoshoot with Sports Illustrated was 100-percent natural and Photoshop-free, the 30-year-old model shared a photo of her flaunting her backside—cellulite and all.
On Sunday, Graham posted a sultry Instagram of her posing on a beach in a skimpy one-piece swimsuit. The photo showed Graham looking back as the camera zoned in on her all-natural derrière, which proudly flaunted her cellulite and stretch marks.
To encourage her followers to show off their cellulite too, Graham quoted Kendrick Lamar‘s “Humble” in her caption. However, instead of ending the lyrics at “stretch marks” like in Lamar’s song, Graham tacked on “cellulite” to keep the body-positive train moving.
“Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretchmarks” ..OR cellulite👋🏽” she wrote in the caption
Whether she’s flaunting her unretouched curves on a national magazine cover or showing off her cellulite on Instagram, Graham is encouraging her followers to accept their bodies as they come, and we’re definitely inspired.
Despite writing a book about body confidence and how to embrace your insecurities, Tess Holiday will be the first to admit that she doesn’t take her advice 100-percent of the time. The 32-year-old model recently opened to Shape about lingering insecurities with her appearance and the genius way she maintains body confidence.
In the interview, The Not So Subtle Art of Being A Fat Girl author explained that she has self-esteem issues like anyone else, even if she’s touted as one of the leaders in body diversity. “People think that since I literally wrote the book on how to love yourself that I love myself all the time, but I don’t,” Holiday said. “Sometimes I love it all and sometimes I pick everything apart”
The curvy model admitted that she’s currently experiencing insecurities with her stomach after welcoming a child via cesarian section a year and a half ago. “Right now I’m having a hard time loving my stomach, because I had a kid a year and a half ago. My body is still not quite the same because I had a C-section,” Holiday said.
However, Holiday isn’t one to hide her insecurities. Instead, she forces herself to choose clothes that highlight them, no matter how uncomfortable she might feel, in order to encourage herself to embrace her insecurities. The philosophy is what inspired Holiday to start her Instagram campaign #EffYourBeautyStandards, to inspire people to embrace their insecurities and ignore social standards of beauty, too.
“In those moments when I’m having a hard time, I’ll try to wear something that scares me. I’ll wear a crop top if I’m not loving my stomach because it kind of forces me to pay attention to it and to love it, really,” Holiday said. “That’s why I started Eff Your Beauty Standards. It was all about me saying ‘Do you have something that scares you? If so, show it off.’”
We get it. Wearing clothes that put your insecurities on display is scary—terrifying, even—but it’s also a body-confident to embrace them and communicate to others that their insecurities are worth embracing too. Plus, whatever Holiday is preaching, we’re listening.