Ashley Graham's father mocked her for not being "smart".
The 30-year-old model - whose parents divorced five years ago - thinks her dad's cruel comments about her struggles with learning disorder dyslexia shaped her into the person she is today.
She said: "I have dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder, and he called me 'Dur' the whole time growing up because I wasn't smart. But I feel like it made me the woman I am today.
"I can hear from the haters and be OK, but I can also hear from the fans and know there is still so much work to do and that we can do it together."
But the 'America's Next Top Model' judge is also thankful that her mom was always supportive of her and encouraged her to think positively, even at her lowest point.
She recalled to Britain's Harper's Bazaar magazine: "I moved to New York at 17 and started being reckless. People think of me as a good girl but I had a bad streak.
"I was doing drugs, I was having sex with the wrong men, I was eating all the wrong food, I wasn't working out and I wasn't taking care of myself spiritually.
"That, over the course of a year or two, will have an effect on you. I gained 25 pounds; I was a US size 18. Agents were telling me that my career was over.
"So I called my mom and said, 'I'm moving home. I'm not doing this anymore.' She then said something to me that now seems prophetic: 'You can't. Your body is going to change someone's life one day.' "
And Ashley - who married Justin Ervin in 2010 - took her mother's advice to heart and completely changed her outlook.
She said: "I grew up very Christian, and the Bible teaches that your words have power. My mom told me, 'You need to only speak good things to your body. Instead of saying I hate myself, say I love myself.'
"I was like, yeuch! But I started doing it and it changed my perspective on who I was. That's also when I said I was going to be celibate, and made my husband wait until we were married to have sex.
"I realised that if I'm not going to love who I am, then who else is?"