More and more, curvy models are making their way to the front of fashion and lifestyle magazines. Last month, plus-size model and social media star Ashley Graham made it onto one of three coveted Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition covers. But thanks to the body positive movement that’s seized our country, she’s only the beginning.
This month, Ebony Magazine is taking the reins by featuring four gorgeous, full-figured ladies on its cover as part of their “body brigade” campaign. The ladies we’re talking about are Orange is the New Black‘s Danielle Brooks, fashion designer and blogger Gabi Gregg (aka GabiFresh) and singers Jazmine Sullivan and Chrisette Michele. They stand together, bold and fierce, sporting a style that can only be described as “hot military.” Statements they made about owning their size and shape sit below or above them. Perhaps the most affecting is Chrisette Michele’s — “I’m way more than the physical.”
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SO EXCITED I can finally share that I'm on the cover of this month's @ebonymagazine with the gorgeous @jsullivanmusic @daniebb3 and @chrisettemichele!!! I'm so honored to be a part of such an amazing issue 🎈🎈🎈🎉🎉🎉 Huge thank you to @joannasimkin and @cynthiaglam for hair and makeup! They were EVERYTHING. #EBONYwomenup ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾
It’s wonderful to see that after way too many years of body-shaming and eating disorders to fit the “beauty standard,” things in the modeling world are finally changing for the better. Emme, America’s first plus-size model told ABC, “There’s a whole line of beautiful young ladies right behind Ashley who are not going to make this a trend. They’re all going to be a part of this beautiful momentum, rolling forward, for women and girls and, quite frankly, for the men who love them.”
That movement is happening now, and this month, these amazing black artists are at the forefront. Danielle Brooks in particular is really feeling how her industry is changing its views on larger women. On Orange is the New Black, she plays a character who viewers can’t get enough of, and it has nothing to do with her size. In fact, her weight and/or shape is never a focus on the show at all. As a result, she’s not boxed in as the funny friend or secondary character — her story lines are just as important and compelling as the skinny girls’ story lines.
“People’s beauty standards [are] something I’ve definitely struggled with in my life. And I’m just so grateful to be on a show where people love me, Taystee, for who she is — and they’ve come to love Danielle for who I am, and it’s not because I’m a size 2 and it’s not because I’m light-skinned with long hair,” Brooks told People.
According to the Ebony feature on the “body brigade,” African-American women are the most obese group in the country, and 80 percent of the population is considered overweight. That’s a lot of women who are likely dealing with body issues. As such, covers like this could not come at a better time. Yes, striving for a healthy weight is important, but being over the “average” doesn’t automatically mean you’re unhealthy. It’s important that these women see all body types being upheld as beautiful.