Ashley Graham is a Barbie girl, In fact live in a Barbie world as HGTV host Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge — and it’s a looping moment for the 35-year-old model. While promoting the upcoming contest, Graham speaks to Yahoo Entertainment about her relationship with Barbie growing up and what it means to be a part of the brand’s evolution over the years.
“She was a fun doll to play with, and I think like a lot of women my age, I grew up thinking, ‘Why aren’t my thighs touching? Why are her breasts so beautiful? Why does she look so perfect?” she added. “That’s a conversation I had a lot growing up with my mom.”
In 2015, Mattel focused on making Barbie more diverse in every way. She made dolls with different skin tones, hair textures, and four different body types (quirky, curvy, petite, and tall). Around the same time, the company asked the author to create an Ashley Graham Barbie.
“I screamed,” she recalls. “I wish there was a Barbie that looked like me when I was younger and so it was such an honor.”
Graham says she felt “no pressure” that there would be a Barbie in her likeness. Instead, she was relieved that there was “finally” a doll “that curvy young girls could relate to.”
“I was like so many other young girls. I just wanted to see my body type represented, but you don’t know how to express it. You’re just a moody little girl, and you look at yourself in the mirror, and you’ I’m upset because nobody talks about back fat. Nobody talks about cellulite,” she explains. “Now we live in this generation of, OK, there are media accounts social media who talk a lot about [body positivity] and they adopt it – and then there are a lot of social media accounts editing it and deleting it. So you have to find out who you are with yourself and not through social media. But that’s why it’s so great that Barbie has really stood the test of time for this.”
Graham is once again teaming up with the iconic brand to Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge. The show features eight teams of HGTV stars and a Food Network chef as they transform a Southern California home into a life-size Barbie mansion.
“Each room is dedicated to a different era of Barbie. There’s the 90s, the 80s, the past, the present, the future… It made me realize how boring my garden is,” laughs Graham. “I need a spiral slide that goes straight into the pool! I need to have faux pebbles painted neon colors!”
THE Barbie The film hits theaters in a week, and Graham has already seen the film directed by Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. The social media star says she absolutely thinks the film showcases body positivity and reflects various beauty standards.
“I’m not giving anything away, but America Ferrera has this whole monologue that I told all my friends [about]”, teases Graham. “When she’s done with that monologue, all you say is ‘Hell yeah!’ It’s like you’re in church and you start screaming because she just preached for all of us. That’s the part I really felt [seen.]”
Graham says Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge will leave viewers feeling equally uplifted.
“I want people to feel like they’ve had a bit of nostalgia, to have fun, and to feel the magic of Barbie again because there are so many magical moments that they put in throughout the show. And I know that while I was filming it, I had such a great time. So, I really hope people watching it feel the same,” he reveals. her, adding, “Barbie is all of us.”
Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge premieres Sunday, July 16 at 8 p.m. on HGTV.