Ashley Graham has admitted her conservative family didn’t initially accept her interracial relationship with Justin Ervin because he’s black.
The 29-year-old model met the director at her church and hoped her loved ones would be “colour-blind” when she brought him home for the first time – so was stunned when her “loving and wonderful” grandmother was “cold” and “hurtful” towards him.
She explained: “I never told my grandparents that the man I was bringing home was black.
“I naively hoped everyone would be colour-blind–which is not what happened. 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.’
“I had never seen my loving, hardworking, and wonderful grandma be so hurtful and so racist. I was in shock.”
But Justin refused to get drawn into the hostility and continued making attempts to reach out to Ashley’s loved ones and his persistence eventually paid off.
She added in an extract from her new book, ‘A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty and Power Really Look Like’, obtained by Glamour magazine: “As if his understanding wasn’t generous enough, Justin called my grandmother on her sixtieth 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.
“Afterward Grandma called my mom and said, ‘You’ll never guess who called me.’ And from then on out, she loved him. Loved him.”
While Ashley and Justin have been happily married since 2010, she admits she was initially reluctant to date him because he wasn’t her “type”.
She said: “I joined a church. I didn’t go there to find a boyfriend; I truly wasn’t looking for anyone other than the person I wanted to be.
“One Sunday my volunteer position was to stand in the elevator welcoming people, passing out candy, and pushing the button to the eighth floor.
“When two tall men walked in, I didn’t bat an eye. One nudged the other and said, ‘If you don’t talk to her, I will.’ His friend left the elevator, but he stayed on. I shrugged. This guy wasn’t my type. With his short hair, ill-fitting, baggy Old Navy jeans, white Hanes T-shirt, and Converse sneakers, he exuded a major nerd factor.
“But there was something sweet about Justin, and I was at church, so I had to be polite.
“He rode up and down with me a few times, and he seemed to be looking into my soul when we talked. He was smart and funny and had travelled the world. So I agreed to go out for coffee.”
*Sourced by Bang Showbiz