- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2016

Ashley Graham, the cover model for the 2016 Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition, told a magazine recently that she credits her “amazing” sex life to waiting until her wedding night to consummate the relationship with husband Justin Ervin, a cinematographer and director.

While the couple first met at their church, Ms. Graham explained in an interview with Elle Canada published on Wednesday, her decision wasn’t so much a traditional, religious one, and, in fact, was inspired by an ex-boyfriend of hers.

“When I was growing up, my parents always told me ‘Don’t have sex until you’re married,’ so I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to go out and have a ton of sex.’ But then an ex-boyfriend made me realize that I need to respect my body, and I need to have a man respect my body,” Ms. Graham told the magazine. “It’s not for everybody, but, in order for that to happen for me, I needed to not have sex [again] until I was married. My husband and I waited; call me crazy, but it worked. Our sex is amazing! [Signature Ashley Graham laugh] It made me feel like I had the power back in my dating life. He respected me more because I wasn’t willing to just give it up.”

But her advice for friends is not necessarily to hold out that long.

“I tell my friends to wait three months. Just see if he can wait. If he can, he’s a good guy. And, again, it’s not for everybody, but for me it was great. It’s something I’m actually really proud of,” she said.

The first “plus size” model to grace the iconic SI Swimsuit cover, Ms. Graham gave readers advice about embracing their life to the full and not reducing their happiness to a dress size or number on the scale.

“I’ve been a size 12, and I thought I was so hot. But now I’m a 14 to 16, and I honestly couldn’t be happier — I’m just content,” Ms. Graham said. “Of course, I look at my body and think, ‘Oh, I want to tighten up my arms a bit, or I wish my ass was lifted higher.’ But nobody has the perfect body. There’s no such thing.”

Ms. Graham’s Elle Canada interview, plus a complete pictorial, will hit newsstands on Sept. 12.

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