Cheryl Tiegs has a strange way of defending her comments about plus size models, in general ... and Ashley Graham, specifically.
We got the OG supermodel Thursday at LAX, and she told us the media misinterpreted her words when she said this year's S.I. Swimsuit cover girl Ashley's look was ... not healthy in the long run.
So, check out the video -- Cheryl breaks down exactly what she really meant, and in the process says she prefers "the normal, fit athletic, Sports Illustrated girl."
There's more, including her true feelings about Ashley's beauty ... though we're not sure how Ashley will take this.