They may love him now, but things weren’t always smooth between Ashley Graham’s family and her husband of six years Justin Ervin.
The 29-year-old Sports Illustrated model opened up to Glamour about the first time she brought her African American boyfriend home to meet her Christian mid-western family.
‘I naively hoped everyone would be colorblind,’ Ashley confessed.
‘I naively hoped everyone would be colorblind’: Ashley Graham, 29, opened up about the first time she brought her African American boyfriend (now husband) Justin Ervin home to meet her Christian mid-western family
In the excerpt from her new memoir A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, the body confidence advocate explained that she was ‘shocked’ at her grandmother’s reaction to her new beau.
‘I brought Justin home to Nebraska. Now, I should probably mention that Justin is black, and that I didn’t grow up around many black people. The sum total of what I learned about African American culture in school was Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Underground Railroad.’
The 5ft 9in stunner reveals her family knew even less.
‘This was more than my mom knew; she didn’t even see a black person in real life until she was 18 years old.’
Meet the parents: In the excerpt from her new memoir A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, the body confidence advocate explained that she was ‘shocked’ at her grandmother’s reaction to her new beau
She says she never even thought to tell her grandparents that the man she was bringing home was black. And failed to warn Justin that her family didn’t have much experience with racial diversity.
Understanding hubby: Ashley credits Justin for being understanding and patient with her family and their prejudice
‘When my grandparents met Justin, my grandmother was cordial but cold. She greeted him and immediately walked away. When it came time for them to leave, my grandparents didn’t even acknowledge him. Instead my grandmother looked me in the eye, with Justin standing behind me, and said, “Tell that guy I said goodbye.’
The sexy model confesses she was ‘in shock.’
‘I had never seen my loving, hardworking, and wonderful grandma be so hurtful and so racist.’
Ashley credits Justin for being understanding and patient with her family and their prejudice.
She notes he was much more accepting than Ashley: ‘Justin made me understand that someone like my grandma only saw black men depicted on television in situations involving guns, rape, and violence—situations that perpetuate racist stereotypes against black people in general and black men in particular.’
Things can change: Eventually, her loved ones grew to love and adore her husband
Eventually, her loved ones grew to love and adore her husband and Ashley shared one moment in particular that changed her grandmother’s view of Justin.
‘Justin called my grandmother on her 60th wedding anniversary. He’s not a texter or an emailer; he’s a pick-up-the-phone-and-call-you person, and anniversaries are a big deal to him,’ she explained.
‘Afterward Grandma called my mom and said, ‘You’ll never guess who called me.’ And from then on out, she loved him … Loved him,’ she concluded.
Ashley met her videographer husband at church in 2009 and the couple were married the following year in 2010.
In August, the beauty revealed that she and Justin didn’t have sex until they were married.
Meet cute: Ashley met her videographer husband at church in 2009 and the couple were married the following year in 2010
‘My husband and I waited; call me crazy, but it worked. Our sex is amazing!’ Ashley, who was 22 when they tied the knot, told Elle Canada.
‘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.’
She added: ‘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.’
Not expecting it: Ashley revealed she was ‘in shock’ when her grandmother reacted the way she did to her then-boyfriend Justin