Yes, you read that subject line correctly. And it's true. This post is not about something that might
have been, or could
have been, or should
have been, in an alternative reality.
It actually happened.* * *
Seventeen magazine has long earned praise for occasionally featuring attractive (if small) pictures of appealing plus-size models in its pages. And when Whitney Thompson earned a cover and legitimate six-page spread in Seventeen as part of her ANTM prize package, this was heralded as a major step forward.* * *
However, it turns out that everyone's favourite Top Model winner was not the first plus-size model to appear in a bona fide Seventeen fashion layout.
That honour belongs to an even more beautiful full-figured goddess--indeed, to the most gorgeous and admired model there has ever been.
In January of 1998, less than a year after the debut of Mode magazine, Seventeen ran what was then an absolutely unprecedented editorial: a six-page layout devoted to junior plus-size fashions, showcased by full-figured girls.
And three of those pages featured a teenage model who would soon become known and adored by all fans of timeless beauty: Shannon Marie.
These photos date from near the beginning of Shannon's career, when she was transitioning from straight-size to plus-size modelling, so they show her in her smallest guise. Nevertheless, even at this relatively tiny size, she already possessed every hallmark of Classical femininity.
The layout's title page features Shannon Marie relaxing on a bed, with an idyllic expression on her lovely face. "So dreamy" reads the cut line--and a better caption could not have been chosen for this serene image. Although Shannon's figure is thin, notice that it already displays characteristics of true feminine beauty: softness in the limbs and shoulders, and a hint of fullness at the waist. Her gentle, faraway expression perfectly suits the mood of the picture. The model's recumbent pose is highly appropriate, as plus-size models are most alluring in positions of indolent repose. The attire is ahead of its time: a sensual, fitted, figure-baring camisole, and a pretty, feminine skirt, all predating (and anticipating) Torrid and the "New Femininity" in fashion.
A closer look (you may click on the image to view it full-size) shows the model wearing multi-hued violet eyeshadow that is both dramatic and fun (so appropriate for Seventeen), and which plays off well against her girlish pink lip colour and golden hair. Those fair tresses drape over her bare shoulders heavily, thanks to the enticing "wet look" hairstyle.
The image offers plenty of narrative suggestions: e.g., a fair maiden has just washed her hair and dressed and made herself up, ready to go out; and while she waits for her suitor, she daydreams pleasantly about . . . well, one can only guess.
But it is the breathtaking second page in the layout, shown below, that displays the full measure of Shannon Marie's beauty. Surely the photographer who took this picture must have gazed upon her in sheer awe, dazzled by the angelic vision that he viewed before him. "Just--Just stand there," he may have said, mesmerized by those haunting yellow-green eyes--the one eye-colour that is even lovelier than fair blue.
Her figure is thin, but soft, suggesting the goddesslike proportions that it would soon possess. The blue camisole--again, very progressive for plus-sizes in 1998--sets off her dazzling fair skin, the thin straps and armband adding a touch of feminine delicacy to the outfit. It is almost impossible to believe that such beauty could exist in human form.
A close-up shows the subtlest of expressions--a half-smile tugging at the corner of her mouth, suggesting a touch of the model's wit and whimsy. Every element of her facial features epitomizes the timeless ideal--the roundness of the face, the wide mouth, the high cheekbones, the feminine chin, and again, those hypnotic eyes. Like history's storied beauties, she only needs to stand there and exist to capture every viewer's heart.
The third page in the layout is quite different, and is another unique presentation of Shannon Marie's talent. If the above two images were breathtaking in their calm and stillness, this one is a study in sinuous motion. So far, fans have only had one video of Shannon Marie's 2000 appearance on The Roseanne Show to gauge the effectiveness of her movements as a model. This page further demonstrates her balletic grace.
Again, although her figure is very thin, there are suggestions of the Classical curves that she would soon possess--a rounded midriff and shapely legs. Her tresses flow freely around her as she moves, matching the twirling of her skirt. Shannon's movements are a study in modelling technique, as her dance-like motions constitute the best possible way to show off the eye-catching appeal of a flared skirt.
Here is one picture in isolation:
One of the mythic attributes of Aphrodite/Venus, the Classical goddess of beauty, was a love of dance, so it stands to reason that Shannon Marie, as the inheritor of the deity's title of "fairest of them all," would possess a similar affinity for movement. It served her very well in her modelling career.* * *
Shannon Marie is that rarest of beauties who is gorgeous in every incarnation. When she was a straight-size model, she was the prettiest of the waifs. During her in-between stage, seen in the above pages, she was the loveliest girl in that category. And of course, when she blossomed into a true plus-size model, she became the loveliest goddess to whom Providence has ever given birth.* * *
The photography in this editorial is first-rate, and the clothing is truly lovely. Fashionable even by today's standards, in 1998 the apparel shown here was far ahead of its time. Indeed, these may be the most attractive fashions that Shannon Marie was ever given to model--and one only wishes that she had showcased similar attire later in her career, when she was at the very peak of her beauty.
We have taken this opportunity to compose a cover page for Shannon Marie, of the kind that we have previously created for other plus-size models. It provides an easily-accessible menu of her links on this site, including the three galleries--which we soon hope to update with the above scans.
Discovering new images from Shannon Marie's career is like finding the Hope Diamond, and we are pleased to be able to share this hitherto-unknown editorial with her countless fans.
- Shannon Marie: Fairest of Them All...