Firstly, let me start by saying that this isn’t about Ashley Graham being a plus-sized model.
Obviously, that is what she’s indeed classed as, and I commend the fact that in Joe Jonas’s new music video (DNCE's ‘Toothbrush’) Ashley, a beautiful and curvaceous girl stars as the main love interest as opposed to let’s say, some nubile young slip-of-a-thing usually associated with your more ‘traditional’ male-led pop vid. It’s certainly refreshing, no doubt.
But I have to ask myself, why has it taken so damn long for us to get to this point? And why, now that we’re actually here, are we seeing ‘Toothbrush’ as some kind of trailblazing work of contemporary videography just because Ashley Graham looks like a beautiful, (and I hate to use this word as I truly believe that there’s no such thing) ‘normal’ woman? Is this honestly breaking new ground? It is 2016 right?!
Cast your mind back a few years. I remember seeing the video for Robin Thicke’s 2013 summer smash hit 'Blurred Lines' — in which a rather scantily clad young lady named Emily Ratajkowski bops about, all long limbs and perfect breasts — and thinking that this time, the music industry had taken things a bit too far.
Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at women’s bodies. I’d even go so far as to admit feeling sexually attracted to the naked female form, but there was something about the 'Blurred Lines' video with it’s slightly sinister lyrics, and Emily’s uncensored nakedness that made me feel well, a little uneasy about the whole affair. Speaking as a ‘normal’ *sorry* woman (and a naturally curvy one at that) I recall thinking that the video set a dangerous precedent for the thousands of impressionable teens streaming it on their mobiles - not just the girls watching Emily cavort around in the nip thinking that her body might be the dictionary definition of ‘perfect’, but also for the boys tuning in who may start obeying the belief that’s what ALL women should look like naked.
I was old enough at the time to feel mildly envious of Emily’s figure (especially as my ex wouldn’t shut up about her), but was wise enough to acknowledge that the girl has bloody good genes, and probably a bloody good gym ethic. I'm certainly not throwing shade her way, I can appreciate that she's naturally gorgeous (and I also give Emily props for addressing any negativity thrown her way because of THAT video, she's obviously a very smart girl) , however I could drink nothing but protein shakes, work out five times a day and my ass would never look like EmRat’s. ‘Dems the facts. But could a ’selfie’ obsessed teenager with an Instagram persona to upkeep, make the same assessment? Maybe not. And that was the worrying thing.
So here we are in twenty-sixteen and thankfully it seems, people are starting to cop on. When I opened this piece with the statement ‘this isn’t about Ashley Graham being a plus-size model’, I meant it in relation to her not being defined as anything else but an incredibly beautiful woman. It still irks me that in many of the pieces I’ve read regarding the ’Toothbrush’ video it’s been widely accepted to prefix Ashley’s name with the phrase ‘plus-size’ but I think that’s my own problem with female classification rather than a slight on the term. Ashley has spoken openly about celebrating diversity in the fashion industry, and is proving herself to be a badass role model to be reckoned with. Come on, she’s pashing with a JoBro right? I just hope that the message is coming through the channels loud and clear. Blimey, it’s taken long enough.
I guess what I adore most about the ’Toothbrush’ video the most is that at last we are getting a representation of women that’s both real AND relatable — even down to the blurred back shot of Ashley pulling her knickers out of her behind - which I think you'll agree is just too sexy. And, I'm hoping that we are finally getting to the stage where ladies (both young and old) can look at a woman and see beauty, irrespective of body type. In fact, Joe Jonas has been quoted as saying that filming 'Toothbrush' with Ashley was like a 'man's dream come true.'
And that’s precisely as it should be.