Whether she’s bearing it all—baby bump included—on Instagram, or heralding self-love on TikTok, Ashely Graham is all about positive affirmations. Pregnant with her second child, the supermodel and Revlon ambassador isn’t just spreading body positivity with her viral messages to fans, she’s opening up a dialogue about motherhood in 2021. All while doing it in the public eye, no less.
We caught up with her over Zoom for a mom-to-mom chat about the myth of having it all, leaning into the messiness of parenting in 2021, and beyond. With her hair romantically swept into a top knot, a perfect red pout, and a matching blazer, she munched on French fries while getting candid about her approach to family and the summer beauty routine that keeps her looking put together amid the chaos.
Even though I know “having it all” is an archaic myth, I’m still having such a hard time navigating a career and being a mom. What’s your approach to balancing work life and motherhood?
"Balance doesn't exist; it's more about how you are managing everything you put on your plate. I had a conversation with Ariana Huffington on my podcast Pretty Big Deal [about what it’s like to be a working mom] and the advice she gave is to tell yourself that mom guilt does not exist. Just tell yourself that. Then you'll be fine."
One thing motherhood has taught me is how to live with the mess.
"Yes! I laugh and lean into it, honestly! I'm not a type-A personality; I'm a type-B, more loosey-goosey. Isaac's first year of life I was a little more neurotic because I thought things had to be a certain kind of way or he would die. And sure enough, he lived.
"I'm just like any other mom going to work and doing what we have to do. I lean on community. I’m so lucky to have my mom and my in-laws and Justin pitches in. I have to really schedule out my time, which is how I’m getting my work done."
What’s your advice to working moms out there who might be struggling?
"I try not to put pressure on myself and give myself grace. That’s really been my slogan for the past year-and-a-half. I'm learning for the first time, Justin's learning for the first time, and Isaac's learning. We're going with the flow. There isn’t a hotline or website I haven't been on. I call every mother I know. Community is key."
What have you learned about yourself through parenting?
"I learned how much love you have inside of you—this overwhelming love that made me look beyond everything that was happening in those really trying times. I had to stay focused on taking care of Isaac and myself. [Isaac] has no idea what's going on—his reality is just us. This is a time where we can look back and say we got through it and we did it together."
That’s something I say a lot, too. I like this mantra, tough times are temporary but tough people endure.
"My mom has always reminded me 'this is a phase.' Whatever phase you're in, you're about to be on to the next one."
Now that you’re pregnant again, what’s it like the second time around?
"I nap every day, and the days I don't nap, I go to bed at 8:30. I remind myself I'm not going to be pregnant forever.
"I've been going back to my old affirmations. I talk to myself just like I did when I was pregnant with Isaac, as my body is changing so rapidly. When it's time to rest, I sit down."
What are your affirmations?
"You're bold. You're beautiful, and you're brilliant. And beyond that, you're growing life."
People have a lot to say about pregnant bodies. Is there a message you care to send out?
"People have too many opinions about women's bodies during and after pregnancy. I didn’t know that with your second pregnancy you show faster but people will ask how far along you are and then have something to say when you tell them.
"I hate that there's a huge onus on women bouncing back and what they're supposed to look like. I want to be healthy, but I’m in no rush to lose all the weight again [post-baby]. I’m not working out like I did when I was pregnant with Isaac. But, we have to give ourselves a break. Plus, there's this misconception that every body is the same. But, every pregnancy even in your own body is different."
I feel like it’s similar to public opinion on breastfeeding.
"People told me, 'you're gonna breastfeed and all the weight will fall off.' Well, the weight didn't fall off. People don't realize how hungry you are when you breastfeed. You literally want to eat as much as when you were pregnant."
Plus, it’s kind of weird that people have an opinion about how you choose to feed your child.
"One thing I hate about society is they make women choose a side—like formula vs. breastfeeding. And it's our children. We choose. It shouldn't be a conversation or a bashing moment.
"I did it for 13 months with Isaac. That was a goal I had; it was an internal goal and I am proud of myself. This next time, if it doesn't happen the same way I'm going to be fine. But it was such a beautiful experience and I'm so grateful I got to do it with Isaac."
Tell me about your pregnancy beauty rituals. What’s your go-to summer routine these days?
"Pared-back. It’s all about hydration right now, especially being pregnant. I’m obsessed with RevlonPhoto-Ready Rose Glow Face Mist ($14). I use it before makeup, over makeup, on the airplane. It's the thing that keeps me hydrated. I love Revlon's ColorStay Eye Liner ($8) in brown; it’s less abrasive than black with Big Bad Lash Mascara ($9). I’m wearing this iconic Revlon lip color Fire & Ice ($11) to match my blazer. The Satin Ink formula doesn’t move—I’m eating fries and it stays put."
What are three products busy moms must have in their arsenal?
"Revlon Rose Glow Mist ($14), an amazing moisturizer, and sunscreen. I like Dermalogica's Sunscreen ($36).
You make looking good sound so low-key.
"I make sure I wash my face. As long as I do that, I'm good. But after that, moisturize and sayonara."