Ashley Graham on How Parents Can Teach Their Children Body Positivity by Loving Themselves

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As a leader in the body confidence movement, Ashely Graham says the journey to body acceptance starts with parents.

During an appearance on Good Morning America on Tuesday to promote her new book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, Graham, 29, discussed how parents should be careful about how they speak to their kids — and themselves.

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“I really believe that parents need to know they are shaping the future of their children,” Graham said. “Words have power. The things that you say to yourself as a parent — the things that you say maybe even just one time to your children — they take it and they take it into their real world and into their life and beyond.”

So what exactly can parents do to help their kids?

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“One thing my mother did is that she never looked in the mirror and said, ‘I’m so fat,’ or ‘I’m so ugly. I need to go on a diet,’ ” Graham explained. “Projecting that on to yourself is only going to make your daughter or son think that of themselves. Because they’re a product of you.”

“Just saying, ‘You know what — I look really good today’ and then just moving on [helps],’” Graham added. “They’re like, ‘Oh, maybe I need to say that to myself.’ ”

In her book, out now, Graham recalls the “constant criticism” she received from her father growing up.

“That was my dad through and through,” she writes. “My father was a master of the cutting insult. His nickname for me was, ‘Duh,’ because he didn’t think I was very smart.”

“The worst I ever felt in my entire career was when, a few years into my career, my dad agreed with my new agent, who said I needed to ‘tighten up,’ ” she added. “I was sobbing because my dad thought I should lose weight.”

Graham told GMA why she wanted to get candid in the book about her family life.

“I want to be a better parent than I had,” she said. “Even though my mom was absolutely amazing. Her and I are still best friends to this day. I think that the next generation should always be better and better.”

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Elsewhere in her chat, Graham opened up about how she handles critics on social media — and how she sees their negativity as opportunity.

“At this point they just roll off my shoulders. But I’m really thinking about the women that are reading that and they’re taking it as if it’s being told to themselves,” she said. “[It's] an opportunity to talk about bodies and the things people call imperfections. Because my job is not done until people just stop judging you because of the number inside of your pants. It’s beyond size. It goes into race, it goes into class, it goes into age. I really think that’s important.”

As for her more practical advice to get rid of the negativity? “I love blocking people,” she said. “I’m not afraid to block anybody.”

And as for the Instagram critics who attacked her for looking thinner, Graham wanted to remind them that she is a supermodel.

“As a professional selfie taker, I know my angles. And I know how to look 20 lbs. heavier and 20 lbs. lighter,” she said. “If Instagram wants to tell me I’ve lost 60 lbs. in one week, then damn I look good.”

Good Morning America airs weekdays (7-9 a.m. ET) on ABC.

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