Ashley Graham Tells Panel at SXSW That the Term 'Plus-Sized' Is 'Totally Outdated'

updated 03/14/2016 AT 01:10 PM EDT

originally published 03/14/2016 AT 10:55 AM EDT

A model is a model, no matter their size, Ashley Graham says.

Speaking at a panel at SXSW in Austin, the new Sports Illustrated cover girl spoke out against the term "plus-sized."

"I think the word 'plus-sized' is totally outdated," she said, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Ashley Graham Tells Panel at SXSW That the Term 'Plus-Sized' Is 'Totally Outdated'| Body shaming, Sports Illustrated, Bodywatch, Models, Cheryl Tiegs

Ashley Graham in the SXSW Portrait Studio

Smallz & Raskind / Getty Images for Samsung

Graham, who at a size 16 is often labeled as a plus-size model, doesn't understand the need to separate curvy models.



"It shouldn't be about labels," Graham said. "I don't want to be called a label, I want to be called a model."

Graham acknowledged that the plus-size fashion industry helped her rise to fame – she first made the SI Swimsuit Issue in 2015 in an ad for swimsuitsforall, a plus-size swimwear brand.

And she added that many of her friends feel empowered by the label, but it isn't for her. Graham wants all women to feel comfortable in their bodies, regardless of size.

"As a body activist, I want to tell women to not be totally subjected to the beauty standards around you," she said.

RELATED VIDEO: See Ashley Graham, Ronda Rousey and Hailey Clauson's unprecedented 'Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit cover

That was something she faced head-on last month when former SI model Cheryl Tiegs said she didn't think Graham and other "full-figured" models are "healthy."

Tiegs later apologized, and Graham addressed her comments again at SXSW.

"Of course I was hurt by hearing it," she said. "But I just brushed it off. That's exactly what you have to do with everything in your life."

Ashley Graham Tells Panel at SXSW That the Term 'Plus-Sized' Is 'Totally Outdated'| Body shaming, Sports Illustrated, Bodywatch, Models, Cheryl Tiegs

Ashley Graham

James Macari / Sports Illustrated

And Graham said she now knows how to ignore any mean comments, and she gets far more words of support these days. But she also has some advice for the Internet trolls.

"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," Graham said. "Your mama taught you that."
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