Ashley Graham Says Fashion Designers Still Tell Her ‘We're Just Not Going to Design Something for a Bigger Body’ (Exclusive)

'I'm not going to stop talking about my body and dressing people of larger sizes because it's not a norm yet,' Graham tells PEOPLE

<p>Ashley Graham/Instagram</p> Ashley Graham at Good American

Ashley Graham/Instagram

Ashley Graham at Good American's open casting call event

Ashley Graham still faces resistance from some designers when she asks them to make clothes for her.

"There's still some designers that have said, 'Sorry, we can't, we're just not going to design something for a bigger body,'" she tells PEOPLE while appearing at Good American's open casting call event at The Row in Los Angeles on Saturday.

"Things have changed immensely in some ways and just have had a full stop in others," she continues. "And that is why I'm not going to stop talking about my body and dressing people of larger sizes because it's not a norm yet."

<p>Arturo Holmes/Getty</p> Ashley Graham attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023

Arturo Holmes/Getty

Ashley Graham attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023

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Graham, 36, is clear that most of the time, designers want to make clothes for her, especially if they're representing a newer brand. But the way the industry is structured right now, making clothes that fit and look flattering on people with bigger bodies costs more money, she explains.

The world-renowned model has been open about the fact that sometimes she pays for the extra fabric herself so that designers who genuinely don't have the money but are eager to make an outfit for her have the opportunity.

"That's not a negative thing by any means, but it still is just where we are in society," Graham tells PEOPLE.

<p>Ashley Graham/Instagram</p> Good American's open casting call

Ashley Graham/Instagram

Good American's open casting call

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She explained that the grading system, or the way the cost of fabric is determined, is a big factor for women with larger bodies in the fashion industry. A lot of the industry's infrastructure just isn't set up to accommodate plus-size women.

Graham says that while the industry is changing, more progress needs to be made.

"If you look at the runways, not much has changed," she continues. "If you look at designers, some of them are dressing different types of bodies, but it's not the norm."

The mother of three said that while some magazines and media outlets are featuring bigger bodies more regularly, "it's been this tiny crawl."

<p>Ashley Graham/Instagram</p> Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham/Instagram

Ashley Graham

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In Graham's opinion, designers are missing out on a lot of money by refusing to dress people, specifically women, who are size 12 and larger. She cited Good American co-founder Emma Emma Grede as one of the only designers providing clothes for that demographic.

"Is it fatphobia? Is it that they're scared to look like they have fallen into commercialism? Is it because they don't have the capability to be able to understand what true grading is on different types of bodies when it comes to breast, belly, butt cellulite? I don't know," Graham says, reflecting on the issue.

Good American's open casting call on Saturday was an opportunity to start the conversation and take action in making the fashion industry more inclusive.

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