Ashley Graham: My stretch marks make me feel strong

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Ashley Graham's stretch marks make her feel like a "superhero".

The 32-year-old model gave birth to her son Isaac in January this year, and has said the marks that have been left on her body due to her pregnancy remind her that women are superheroes for giving birth, which she describes as a "beautiful thing".

She said: "When I look at my new stretch marks and the changes that my body went through, it reminds me that, as women, we're all superheroes.

"I'm always reminded that our bodies were built to do this. It's such a beautiful thing to be able to give birth, but I didn't realise it until afterward. Before I was even pregnant, that was always my hope for women in general, that they could learn to continue to love their bodies through the changes and the ups and downs."

Ashley - who is known for being a proponent of body positivity - had to "reimagine" her relationship with her body during pregnancy, and felt "devastated" by her stretch marks at first.

But the beauty soon realised her marks were not "battle wounds", and learned to "celebrate" her "new body".

The model - who has her son with her husband Justin Ervin - added: "And then, when I got pregnant, I had to reimagine my relationship with my body with this creature inside me taking over. I was gaining weight so rapidly. Then, to get stretch marks on my stomach, that to me was like, 'Oh my gosh. I can't believe this happened.' At first it felt devastating, and then when I met Isaac, I said, 'No, this is exactly what every woman has talked about for ages. This is not just a battle wound. This is something that has changed my life forever, and I'm going to celebrate my new body.' "

Ashley also spoke about her decision to stop letting the fashion industry "take over" her body.

Speaking to her pal Kristen Bell in an interview for the first ever digital edition of ELLE magazine, she said: "I let the fashion industry take over my body for too many years. The moment I stepped free and said, 'Enough is enough - I'm going to do what I want,' is when I started seeing changes, not only in my personal life but in my professional life. But it really takes hard work."