It’s rare to see a cover model who doesn’t fit the conventional perceptions of attractiveness — thin, light-skinned — so Ebony magazine’s March “Body Brigade” issue aims to turn that paradigm upside down by featuring four full-figured women. And the issue is one for the history books. In an homage to Women’s History Month, the magazine brought Chrisette Michele and Jazmine Sullivan, both singers, together with Danielle Brooks from Orange Is the New Black and designer-slash-activist Gabi Fresh for a shoot to rejoice the “plus size” body and debunk the myth that bigger bodies are always unhealthy. Jezebel spoke with the author Tomika Anderson and Ebony editor-in-chief Kierna Mayo about the cover piece, which Mayo said falls in her “top 5” stories in a 20-year career.
“These women are soldiers. I don’t know if people understand what this process was like for them. They were brave. But brave is not synonymous with fearless. There were definitely some concerns on how these images would be received. For them to say, this is who I am. This is what I look like. It’s just incredible,” Mayo told Jezebel. There was an understanding on the shoot that a “special moment” was being created, she said. “The overwhelming response has been positive. There are guys tweeting out googly-eyed emojis and further challenging the notion that these women can’t be seen as sexy.”
— EBONY MAGAZINE (@EBONYMag) March 5, 2016
According to Anderson, Gabi Fresh opened up the group interview with comments about body-positivity, which allowed the other women to “let their hair down and [get] honest about the push-pull with their body image. “These are women that constantly grapple with weight and what to wear,” she said. “Gabi said she has those moments too. But she also said that — not only is she okay with the word fat, but she embraces it.”
“I’m a curvy girl too,” Anderson said. “So I was there to capture their stories — but they were speaking my truth as well.”
Read the full interview at Jezebel.